Regional discount retailer Fred's reported that it was investigating a credit breach last week, which may affect multiple stores the company owns.

Fred's chain of pharmacy and general merchandise establishments span 650 stores across more than a dozen states. Until the investigation has concluded, it is uncertain how many stores were affected, but KrebsOnSecurity reports that a pattern of fraudulent charges primarily focuses on locations in the Midwest and South, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.

KrebsOnSecurity broke the news of the security breach after getting word from several financial institutions that a pattern of fraud on customer credit and debit cards indicated that Fred's was the latest retailer to be the victim of malware infected point of sale systems. 

After the reports, Fred's confirmed the breach in a statement. 

"We want to assure our customers that protecting their information is one of our top priorities and we are taking this potential incident very seriously. Until this investigation is completed, it will be difficult to determine with certainty the scope or nature of any potential incident, but we will continue to work vigilantly to address any potential issues that may affect our customers," the company said in a statement. 

Fred's said in the statement that it immediately launched an internal investigation on the breach upon discovering it and retained the independent forensics firm Mandiant to examine their data security systems. 

Fred's is the latest victim of this kind of hack, which is similar to the type of breach suffered by Home Depot and Target. With larger businesses shoring up their security and moving towards EMV, which would not be susceptible to this kind of attack, hackers are moving down to business of this level and even smaller. 

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