Since it’s Friday, let’s get the bad news out of the way so that we can end on a good note. It comes from an announcement this week from TJX, the giant discount retailer that owns such clothing stores as T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, that at least 45.7 million credit card numbers from customers in the United States, Canada, and Britain were stolen from their computers over the last couple of years. In addition to the credit card numbers, personal ID numbers and the related names, addresses, and driver’s license numbers of hundreds of thousands of customers who returned merchandise to the stores were also compromised. The breach represents the largest reported theft of personal data in history, and the thieves have already used some of the stolen information to make fraudulent purchases all over the world.
A federal criminal investigation is under way, and TJX is currently the subject of many lawsuits concerning fraud and identity theft in the wake of this breach. But perhaps even more significant is the possible legislation that may result from this event. Banks, as the issuers of credit cards, have traditionally picked up the bill for fraud, and there is no exception in this case. However, pending legislation in Massachusetts is aimed at making retailers responsible for fraud instead, and with the outrage caused by this catastrophic breach of data and loss of funds, a bill like it could conceivably work its way to Congress in the near future.
But with that in mind, let’s end this week on a high note. I’d like to use this last paragraph to thank and congratulate the youth of America who volunteer some of their time for good causes. Far too often, today’s young people are portrayed in a bad light and their contributions to society go unnoticed. But not here at Prevention Works. I’m sending a huge congratulation to Cell Phones for Soldiers, a benevolent charity started by some very dedicated and passionate youth in Norwell, MA, that has expanded into an international movement. This group collects old cell phones for recycling, and donates the return to American troops overseas. So far they have raised one million dollars. Their story is highlighted in a recent New York Times article, and I think that everyone can benefit from learning more about this group. They prove (yet again) that today’s youth are a powerful voice and important force in our world.