Data breach leaves nearly 40 million Target shoppers at risk for identity theft
ANCHORAGE - Target has confirmed that anyone who used their credit or debit cards in any of their U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have had their credit information stolen.
The breach affects about 40 million people.
Officials said Target’s point-of-sale systems — used when swiping your debit or credit cards — was hacked by someone working for the company. That means names, credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates and security codes of customers could be in the hands of criminals.
With that information, crooks can wreak havoc on bank accounts and credit statements. Just ask Christine Olds.
“We went on vacation and went to use [our cards] and it was shut off completely,” Olds recalls. ”It was rough because we were on vacation and we don’t have any other credit cards.”
It took Olds’ bank, Alaska USA, the entire week she was on vacation to clear her credit.
Now, 40 million Target retail shoppers are at risk of sharing that same frustration.
“That’s a little nerve-racking because I have a Target Red Card,” said Aisha Overhult, mother of twins and regular Target shopper.
She was one of millions across the nation who cashed in on Black Friday deals at the big box retailer. Unfortunately for her, the data breach began the day before Thanksgiving.
“I want to be able to trust them,” Overhult said. “I come here all the time. They promise you that you can trust them but if they can’t keep it safe, I don’t want it.”
Target has notified banking institutions about the breach and customers are being assured they will not be held responsible for any fraudulent purchases made as a result of the hack.
Michelle Tabler with the Better Business Bureau said it’s up to shoppers to keep this situation from getting any worse. She offers the following tips:
- Check your bank and credit statements online as soon as possible and continue to do so regularly
- If you seen any unauthorized purchases, contact your bank
- Keep your receipts handy after you’ve been shopping so you can check them against your credit card statements
- Monitor your credit report (AnnualCreditReport.com offers free credit reports annually)
- If you see any new unauthorized accounts on your credit report, have your credit frozen
“This doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen,” Tabler said. “That’s why we always tell people, every single month, ‘check your credit card statement, check your bank statements.’”
Target officials released a statement that said the issue had been resolved. Target online shoppers’ information has not been compromised, they added.