Gander Mountain Identity Theft
Hunting season arrived unexpectedly on Tuesday for customers of Gander Mountain's outdoor gear store in Greensburg.
The national retailer is looking for computer equipment containing five years' worth of transactions at the store that vanished recently from the company's headquarters in St. Paul. Stored on the equipment are 112,000 credit card numbers, including 10,000 with cardholders' names, plus 650 check customers' names, addresses, birthdates and driver's license numbers.
"You're darned right I'm concerned," said Ron Stile, 59, of Derry, Westmoreland County. He bought all new hunting clothes at the Gander Mountain store last year and, so, is affected by the incident. "Anymore, you don't know what to do."
He said his daughter and her husband were recent victims of identity theft, "and they certainly didn't have a fun ride." Stile, who shops at the Greensburg store "quite a bit," is anxiously awaiting a notice from the about what steps to take.
Gander Mountain is alerting any customer who may have used a credit card or written a check at the Greensburg store from July 2002 through June 2007. The period represents the transaction data on the computer that was misplaced or snatched.
The retailer has 109 stores in 22 states. The Greensburg outlet is one of 11 in Pennsylvania. The retailer also has area stores in West Mifflin, Moon, Washington and Johnstown.
The incident happened a few weeks ago, and Gander Mountain filed a report with St. Paul police on Monday, said vice president of marketing Tim Martin. He would not provide specifics about the equipment but said there was no sign the information has been misused. Neither were Social Security numbers included in the missing data.
"For anybody who thinks they may have used a card there during that time, we have a help line for them to call," said Martin. The company dedicated 15 phone operators to fielding only help line calls.
The company issued a news release nationally "to make sure it got as much exposure as we could," Martin said. Transaction data in question pertained to only the Greensburg store, he said. Gander Mountain has sent letters to about 5,750 customers for whom it had addresses informing them of the incident.
The company's reaction and the advice it's providing -- especially to alert card companies and banks -- are typical in such situations, said Anne Wallace, executive director of the Identity Theft Assistance Center, a trade group based in Washington, D.C. "The advice is really for everbody."
She agrees with Martin that the equipment was probably stolen and that information contained therein was not what lured the thief.
"We frequently hear about laptops being stolen. We've even heard of people stealing servers," said Wallace.
"They are valuable as equipment. That's usually why they're stolen," she said. "But very few of these incidents actually results in fraud."
Still, customers of the Greensburg store were wary yesterday.
Bill Tylavsky said he shops at Gander Mountain once or twice a month.
"I rarely use a credit card, but yes, it would make me worried if I thought my card (information) was in there."
Bob Dunlap, 49, of Salem Township, Westmoreland County, said he has used a credit card at Gander Mountain within the past five years. He said he's glad the company is sending out letters about the incident.
"I'm surprised they didn't try to cover it up," he said.
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