UPDATE 2-U.S. states probe Home Depot breach, senators seek FTC investigation

Tue Sep 9, 2014 5:43pm EDT
 
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(Adds senators' comments, analyst comments, details of credit ratings impact)

By Karen Freifeld

NEW YORK, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Two senators asked the federal government to investigate a data breach on the payment-card processing systems of Home Depot Inc and five U.S. states launched a probe into the matter on Tuesday as fallout from last week's attack intensified.

The retailer has yet to say what was stolen, though experts fear the attackers may have gotten away with more than 40 million payment cards, which would exceed the number taken in last year's unprecedented attack on Target Corp.

Home Depot said customers who shopped at its stores as far back as April were exposed, meaning the breach extended for more than four months including the busy summer season. That is far longer than the three-week Target breach.

The increased government scrutiny could be another sign of trouble for Home Depot, even though it has yet to determine the full scope of the breach, analysts warned.

"This sounds worrisome," said Efraim Levy, senior equity analyst at Standard & Poor's.

The news also caught the attention of credit ratings agency Moody's, which said the attack is a "negative" factor, though there was no immediate rating impact.

The effort by five U.S. states was disclosed just a day after the largest U.S. home improvement retailer confirmed it had been breached.   Continued...