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Target announces massive credit card theft

Michael Lux Blog, News, Scam Alert 14 Comments

Earlier today Target announced that over 40 million credit cards had been compromised.  Target revealed that hackers gained access to people’s names, credit card numbers, and CCVs (the CCV is the 3 digit security code on the back of most major credit cards).  According to Target the people affected were those who shopped in Target stores between November 27th and December 15th of this year.  In their apology to customers, they made it clear that it was only customers who shopped in stores and not customers who made online purchases.

Target said that the people responsible for the theft accessed the information by hacking into the software that runs the store’s credit card readers.

If you think you have been affected, or are worried about credit card fraud, there are a number of steps you can take.

  • First, Keep a close eye on all of your credit card transactions.  If something looks off, call your credit card company immediately.  Remember, it is the credit card company’s responsibility to prevent fraudulent charges, but you must be careful to detect them.
  • Second, consider reaching out to the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) and having a fraud alert put on your account.  Doing so will make it much harder for a would be identity thief to open a new account in your name.
  • Third, run your credit.  You have the right by law to do so for free, once a year (Tip: when running your free credit report, be sure to pick a company that does not require a credit card number).  If you don’t recognize an account call and ask about it immediately.
  • Finally, if you want to prevent theft from your stolen account number, you can call your credit card company and ask them to issue a new card with a new number.  Many identity theft experts recommend doing this on a yearly basis.  If you do decide to go this rout remember to update the account information on any auto debits that you have with your student loans, utilities, etc.
  • DebtDiscipline

    This was all over the news yesterday. Glad I don’t have a Target card. Good tips Michael!

    • I should be more clear, this applies to all credit cards used at target, not just Target cards.

  • My wife has one… we’re cancelling and putting fraud alerts just in case. We also have one of the “true” ID theft insurance plans (as in not one of the fake ones…) so while we’re annoyed, hopefully it will limit any damage.

    • It is a real pain. However, by being as proactive as you are, you have a great shot at preventing any real damage from being done.

  • Done by Forty

    Yeah, I’d heard about this and will be pulling a credit report to check for anything new. Thanks for this post! Makes you worry a bit…

    • It sure does make you worry. These things happen often but on a smaller scale, so it is important to use this experience as a chance to build some good habits.

  • I have a Target debit card and I did use it during the time span. Would this affect me differently?

    • Target did not specify if debit cards were affected or not, but given the nature of the hack, I would highly suspect that they were. You should consider asking for a new number or at the very least keep a very close eye on it.

  • I shop at Target all the time. I’ve been keeping a close eye on my credit card transactions ever since I heard this news.

    • Good call. I wasn’t directly affected by this one, but it now has me more vigilant about watching my cards.

  • It’s a good day to be a walmart shopper! 😉

    This is some scary stuff, and hopefully no one gets harmed too bad. And I hope they catch the folks that hacked Target.

  • Holly Johnson

    I haven’t shopped at Target for a few months and I’m thankful for that. I think it’s so sad that people would put so much effort into stealing vs. getting a real job.

    • Well put… with talent enough to hack the Target system, it is a shame it cant be put to a more productive use.