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Report: Cost Plus Experiences Security Breach

San Diego Cost Plus World Market has identified 11 stores where hackers appear to have gained access to customer financial records, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The report said the company believes that this is an isolated incident involving a very small number of stores over a specific period of time.

The news comes after an investigation stemming from a mid-June report that two employees found unauthorized transactions on their debit-card accounts. By early July, bankcard companies and other financial institutions were reporting a wave of fraudulent debit-card transactions linked to several of the company's Southern California stores.

Cost Plus started to inform customers later that month that the debit-card PIN pads at select stores had been tampered with between February and April. As a result, an unknown number of account numbers and PINs were hijacked, the report said.

The report said that Cost Plus has changed its point-of-sale procedures and has started to replace its PIN-pad devices throughout all of its 300 stores nationwide. That process will be completed by the end of this month.

In other news, Cost Plus said Thursday it was reducing the number of stores it plans to open in fiscal 2008 from 17 to 15. Separately, the chain said its second-quarter loss widened as weak dollar, higher energy costs cut into profits.

The company said its second-quarter results were weighed down by a $2.8 million expense incurred by the unsolicited buyout offer from Pier 1 Imports Inc. and increased energy costs, higher health-benefit expenses and the weak dollar.

Excluding the impact of those expenses, the company said its operating loss was $25.2 million. Revenue rose 5.6%, as sales climbed to $221 million, up from $209.3 million during the same period last year.