Fashion retailer Forever 21 has reported that it is investigating a card payment security breach in some of its worldwide stores. It has warned customers to thoroughly check their debit and credit card statements.

A press release from the firm said it was too early in the probe to give an exact summary of the problem, but anyone who believed they had been a victim of an unauthorised charge should contact their bank.

As a result of a third party report, Forever 21 started to look in depth at transactions at its 815 outlets in 57 countries, covering a period of March to October. The USA based retailer has acknowledged that discrepancies have been found in some point of sale devices in some of the stores.

With Black Friday imminent, the announcement could well add to concerns in the retail sector that cybercrime is a long way from being under control.


Spotlight falls again on halting retail hacking

It is believed the issues at Forever 21 occurred when transaction devices were not using correct encryption – a hot topic under the General Data Protection Regulations which are due to go live in 2018.

The legislation mandates that all data is encrypted, as part of wide sweeping new rules on gathering, storing and using personal information.

The spectre of security and privacy issues grows exponentially with the advancement of technology – especially the Internet of Things and the way in which Big Data is informing retail business decision making and growth.

It is difficult to gauge the size of the issue in retailing, as it is believed that not all companies are as willing as Forever 21 to publicise potential hacking incidents.

According to the Office for National Statistics’ Crime Survey for England and Wales, fraud and computer misuse together account for almost 50% of the 10.8 million criminal acts recorded in the past year.

However, that figure could be the “tip of the iceberg” and the actual figure could be 20.5m incidents of computer misuse and fraud, due to the way in which such crimes are reported and categorised according to some pundits.

Consumers want reassurance, retailers need skills

A number of recent surveys have found that the majority of consumers are happy to accept increased security measures to eradicate fraud. This indicates that security is equally important to UK consumers as value and convenience.

It leaves retail executives with a race to ensure their companies have the right skills in place to coordinate and measure the burden of data management and analysis. Retailers are also seeking new talent; recruits that are able to increase consumer experience and personalisation, while keeping one eye permanently on security and privacy issues.

Forever 21 by JeepersMedia licensed under Creative commons 4