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Barnes & Noble admits that payment systems at 63 US stores hacked

US book retailer Barnes & Noble last month shut down the use of PIN pads at its check-outs after discovering that payment units at 63 of its stores had been hacked to steal customers' personal information.

The hack affected stores in nine states, including California, New York, Massachusetts, and Florida, but apparently only compromised one PIN pad at each store, Barnes & Noble said in a statement.

According to B&N, the criminals planted bugs in the PIN pad devices, allowing the capture of credit card and PIN numbers, a ploy similar to the dummy readers installed at cash points by UK crooks to steal card details.

"This situation involved only purchases in which a customer swiped a credit or debit card in a store using one of the compromised PIN pads," the store said.

Barnes & Noble has 700 stores in the US, meaning the hack affected fewer than 1 per cent of its physical retail outlets. But it was deemed by B&N to be "a sophisticated criminal effort," prompting the company to stop using PIN pads in all stores as of 14 September.

B&N is warning customers who swiped their cards at any of the affected stores to change debit card PIN numbers, review accounts for unauthorised transactions, and notify their banks.

Barnes & Noble said its customer database is secure, and purchases on barnesandnoble.com, as well as of Nook and Nook mobile apps, were not affected.

B&N has been busy this autumn, recently unveiling the Nook HD and Nook HD+, as well as introducing a newly formed venture between the bookstore and Microsoft, dubbed Nook Media.

The new Nook tablets will be Barnes and Nobles' first foray into international travel, with UK pricing ranging from £159 for an 8GB version of the Nook HD and running up to £269 for a 32GB version of the 9in Nook HD+ tablet.

As the company is US-centric, it's relying largely on a series of key retail partnerships to help it take on devices like the Google Nexus 7 and the recently unveiled iPad mini. High street giants like Argos, John Lewis, and PC World-owner Dixons Retail are among B&N's chosen allies, as are specialist UK bookshops such as Foyles and Blackwell's.