Epsilon security breach compromises email addresses

SOUTH CAROLINA (WMBF) - Hundreds of retailers are warning consumers this week to be on the lookout for phishing emails requesting personal information, following a major nationwide security breach.

Officials at Epsilon, a Dallas-based company that manages email communications, have launched an investigation into the possible theft of millions of email addresses. Epsilon said Friday that its system had been breached, exposing email addresses and customer names but no other personal information.

Epsilon helps to manage email communications for some of the nation's largest companies, including Walgreens, Best Buy, Kroger and Capital One Financial.

Emails alerting customers of the security breach have hit the inboxes of many on the Grand Strand, including Michael Jeffreys of Garden City. Jeffreys says he has received multiple emails warning of potential phishing emails from Target and Walgreens.

"As it goes on and I follow who I'm getting these emails from, I guess I'll learn to realize that you give your email address to one company [and] it doesn't mean it's going to stay with that one company," he said Wednesday. "It can go anywhere."

While the alleged theft of the email addresses could land spam email in your inbox, Steven Luse says the trouble from the incident won't be felt right away.

Luse, who oversees computer security and network classes at Horry-Georgetown Technical College, says scammers will hit your inbox months after the security breach. He says, though, it's up to the consumer to prevent personal information from landing in the wrong hands.

"If you're diligent enough as an individual, don't give anyone information they don't need," Luse explained. "Therefore, if it's electronic, don't give it to them in an email."

Luse says if you receive a suspicious email that includes a link to a website, hover over the link to make sure it isn't re-directing you to another site. He says the only way you can stay 100 percent safe from an internet criminal is to keep your personal information under wraps.

Copyright 2011 WMBF News. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this article.