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.