Zappos’ customers may have been zapped by identity theft; meanwhile big Internet sellers zap small Internet guys, just like the big boxes do to local, independent stores

Over at his Red Tape Chronicles, MS-NBC's Bob Sullivan warns that Internet marketer "Zappos says hacker may have accessed info on 24 million customers."

UPDATE: According to this New York Times story on Zappos, the online merchant says in a post that the hack disclosed all the personal information in customer online accounts or records — name, address, phone number, password, email address, etc — including the last four digits of their credit card numbers. Consumers should be aware that this kind of breach often leads to a followup attack where the bad guys contact you again and purport to be security staff for your bank. They offer the partial information that they have as proof, and then ask you to confirm that you really are that consumer by matching the “rest of your credit card number so we can be sure it really is you. Here’s our website form to fill in.” Doh! Believe it or not, Homer Simpson is not the only consumer who would fall for that. Remember, don’t reply to “phishing” emails– call the number on your credit or debit card to speak with your bank if you are not sure an inquiry by phone or email is real.

ORIGINAL POST: Over at his Red Tape Chronicles, MS-NBC’s Bob Sullivan warns that Internet marketer Zappos says hacker may have accessed info on 24 million customers.”

For tips on fighting back against identity theft, check out the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

Meanwhile, the New York Times has an interesting story, “Online Shoppers Are Rooting for the Little Guy,” by Stephanie Clifford and Claire Cain Miller about how some online shoppers are trying to buy from little guys, not the Zappos or Amazons, because big Internet retailers are crushing the little e-tailers, just like big box stores crush local stores. Unfortunately, while a strategy described in the story, “Buy It Where You Try It,” sounded good, I didn’t find much evidence of it spreading on the web.

Author/policy analyst Stacy Mitchell of The New Rules Project of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance has regular updates and reports on the impact of big stores on local economies and even on their effect on the quality of the stuff you buy, as her recent post “Is your stuff falling apart? Thank Walmart” explains.


Ed Mierzwinski

Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program, PIRG

Ed oversees U.S. PIRG’s federal consumer program, helping to lead national efforts to improve consumer credit reporting laws, identity theft protections, product safety regulations and more. Ed is co-founder and continuing leader of the coalition, Americans For Financial Reform, which fought for the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, including as its centerpiece the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He was awarded the Consumer Federation of America's Esther Peterson Consumer Service Award in 2006, Privacy International's Brandeis Award in 2003, and numerous annual "Top Lobbyist" awards from The Hill and other outlets. Ed lives in Virginia, and on weekends he enjoys biking with friends on the many local bicycle trails.

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