40 Million Target Customers May Be Victims of Security Breach

Photo (cc) by j.reed

If you’ve done any shopping at Target in the past few weeks and used plastic to pay, your credit or debit card information may be at risk.

Target says as many as 40 million customers may be susceptible to fraud due to a security breach of credit and debit card data between Nov. 27 and Dec.15.

The company says the stolen information includes customer names, credit or debit card numbers, card expiration dates and CVV codes, enabling fraudsters to replicate the data onto counterfeit cards. The CVV is that three-digit code on the back of your card.

USA Today reports:

The breach involves the theft of information stored on the magnetic stripe on the backs of cards used at nearly all of Target’s stores around the country, according to the Krebs on Security website, who first reported the news. …

The breach does not appear to involve online purchases, Krebs reports. It appears the type of data stolen would allow thieves to create counterfeit credit cards and, if PIN numbers were intercepted, would also allow thieves to withdraw cash from ATM machines, according to Krebs.

Target notified authorities and financial institutions Immediately after the breach was discovered, the company said. “Target’s first priority is preserving the trust of our guests and we have moved swiftly to address this issue, so guests can shop with confidence. We regret any inconvenience this may cause,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Target.

If you believe you might be among the 40 million customers, take these steps to protect yourself:

  • Starting right now, monitor your credit card or bank statement for purchases or withdrawals you didn’t make. If you see fraudulent activity, file a police report and notify your card company or bank. You won’t be held responsible for paying for a fraudulent purchase if you notify the financial institution in a timely fashion.
  • If you think you used your credit card at a Target store during that period of time, let your card company know. It may issue you another card.
  • If you used your debit card instead, call your bank. It may want to issue you a new card or at least change your PIN.
  • If your identity has been stolen as a result of this data breach, contact Target toll-free at (866) 852-8680 to report the incident.
  • Start monitoring your credit reports. You can get one free report each year from each of the big three credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. Look for new accounts being opened in your name and other suspicious activity.
  • Ask one of the credit bureaus to put a fraud alert on your report. It will share your request with the two other bureaus.
  • If you are a victim of fraud, consider getting a freeze on your credit reports.

There’s no need to pay for credit monitoring. Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson explains how you can easily do it yourself for free in this video.

What are your thoughts about Target’s security breach? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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