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Advance Auto Parts, the US motoring parts retailer, is the latest firm to give up customer credit card data to hackers.

The bad guys gleaned financial information on up to 56,000 customers, through an attack affecting 14 stores nationwide, the firm a href="http://www.advanceautoparts.com/creditsecurity/default.asp" target="_blank">said on Monday.

The mechanism of the attack and the identity of the perps are unknown. Advance Auto has started sending letters directly to affected customers. They will be offered a year's free credit monitoring.

The firm has notified credit, debit and check processors. Advance Auto has also set up a toll-free number (1-800-704-1154) to field customer calls.

The retailer reckons the breach has been contained but has hired third-party security consultants to identify ways to improve security. Meanwhile, it's working with law enforcement agencies in a bid to trace the culprits.

The problems at Advance Auto Parts follow recent breaches at US grocery chain Hannaford, affecting 4.2 million credit card records, and at cut-price retailer TJX, affecting 45.7 million records. The Hannaford breach is blamed on a sophisticated malware attack, while a insecure wireless network was at fault for the that made TJX the poster child last year for massive data breaches. ®

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