A class action against Sears, Roebuck and Co. has opened a can of worms for other large retailers that may be collecting bad debts too aggressively.

Federated Department Stores Inc., the Cincinnati-based retail conglomerate that operates Macy's and Bloomingdale's, is being investigated by New York State Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco. At issue is whether Federated improperly collected debt from consumers who have filed for bankruptcy, said a spokeswoman for Mr. Vacco.

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