Hackers set sights on Target shoppers

In recent months, Target stores have been headline news, and not for their excellent service. Target officials announced that between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, 40 million of their customers’credit and debit cards had been compromised due to an extreme data breach just as the holiday season was kicking into high gear.

Criminals forced their way into the Target system, which enabled access to credit and debit card information. The investigation determined that certain customer information was taken.  In the announcement, the company said customer names, debit and credit card numbers, card expiration dates, PIN numbers and embedded codes on debit and credit cards had all been stolen, which put shoppers’ identities at high risk. Social Security numbers were not among the stolen information.

The MC Business & Economic Development Center has extended an offer to the community to help create fraud alerts on accounts.Associate Director of BEDC Betsy Fredericks said: “We are encouraging anyone who is part of the community and suspects that they are victims of credit fraud to contact our office for assistance at 432-684-4309. We will help set up credit monitoring so that if you are ever at risk of having your information used, especially for big purchases like buying a vehicle or furniture, the credit agency will contact you personally to verify that it is in fact you trying to use your credit to make a purchase. Your credit will not be run unless the agency has spoken to you directly.”

That is not all that BEDC will assist with. “We also help students, or anyone in the community with credit counseling. We do what is called a “soft pull,” which is a view of your credit history that won’t affect your credit like it does with most sites. The first time is free, the second time is a $20.00 fee,” said Fredericks.

Although Target officials declined to provide specifics because of the ongoing investigation, the company is working closely with the United States Secret Service and the Department of Justice to bring those responsible to justice.

According to wtvy.com, one woman in Midland was affected by the security breach and because of the situation,she has asked not to be identified. The shopper bought a sweater from the retailer on Dec. 6, 2013. Weeks later, she tried to make a purchase elsewhere and her card was declined. After contacting her financial institution, she was informed that her credit had been run 17 times since her December purchase at Target in Midland. The credit card was also used in Nevada and New Mexico. Since the incident, the woman’s credit has dropped 28 points and has been flagged. Her credit is now frozen and unusable due to the incident.

Recently, the company disclosed that the massive data theft was much more extensive than anticipated in December with information being stolen from as many as 70 million customers. Target officials said that criminals not only took information from in-store shoppers but from people who shopped online and used the call center where they provided their phone number and email addresses.

Target spokesperson Molly Snyder told the Associated Press that there were no new details to share about how the data breach was executed by criminals but the compromise was in the point-of sale system in their U.S. stores.

Target HR representative Eliza Fiedler could not comment on how the breach affected employees or if there has been a decrease in shoppers. MC student Laura Smith said she was very fond of Target. “I love their home décor items and especially their baby stuff.” Since the security breach, Laura said she no longer feels the same about shopping at the store. “Having someone steal information and use your name to buy whatever they want is terrible and invasive. I don’t think I can ever trust shopping there again. I will be very nervous every time I swipe my card to pay for things.”

Target officials are trying to mend their relationship with their customers and ensure that customers have zero liability for charges that they did not make. The company is offering a year of free credit monitoring to all guests who shopped in U.S. stores. Customers who were affected by the security breach are encouraged to visit creditmonitoring.target.com to request an activation code and receive the free service. The retailer also advises customers to be wary of call or email scams that may appear to offer protection but are really trying to get personal information. If customers are concerned about a fake email or want reassurance that an email is actually from target, they can visit target.com/databreach where they are able to compare any emails to official copies of the emails that Target has distributed.

Target said the issue has been resolved and the access point that criminals used was closed immediately when the breach was discovered on Dec. 15. For more information, contact the Target media relations line at 612-696-3400.

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