Two US newspapers have mistakenly sent out the credit card details of their subscribers as part of their newspaper distribution system.
The Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette sent out slips of paper with the credit card data of up to 240,000 subscribers.
The credit card numbers were printed on routing slips attached to 9,000 bundles of newspapers sent to retailers and carriers in the distribution chain last weekend. The two Massachusetts newspapers are owned by the New York Times company.
The security blunder is the latest to hit corporate America amid concerns that consumers are increasingly at risk of being victims of identity theft.
Among many recent cases of lost customer details, millions of customers saw their financial data go missing at Bank of America and data broker ChoicePoint.
The latest exposure of customer data occurred because the Telegram & Gazette, which circulates both papers under a shared distribution system, printed routing slips on recycled paper containing internal reports with subscriber credit card numbers.
The practice of using recycled internal paper in the distribution system has now been stopped, said the paper.
The two newspapers set out to recover as many of the routing slips as possible, but most had been thrown away by the time the blunder was discovered.
A hotline has been set up for worried subscribers.