NEW INFORMATION: Answers to questions about the Target data breach

By: Olga Michail, Megan Lowry Email
By: Olga Michail, Megan Lowry Email

(AP) -- Unhappy Target customers have been leaving angry comments on the company's Facebook page.

   Some say they will stop shopping at the discount chain after it revealed that about 40 million credit and debit card accounts were stolen as the holiday shopping season revved up.

   Target says customers who swiped their cards in its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have had their accounts exposed. The stolen data includes customer names, card numbers, expiration dates and the security codes on the backs of cards.

   Online purchases weren't affected.

   Customers are also complaining that they can't get through to the company's call center or get on Target's branded credit card website.

   Target says it is adding more workers to field calls and help solve website issues.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis (WEAU)-- EAU CLAIRE, Wis (WEAU)--It's something many of us used to do without hesitation. But the second largest credit and debit card hack in the country has many thinking twice before sliding their card at any store.

Target has confirmed 40 million debit and credit cards used at their stores nationwide between November 27 and December 16 have been hacked and could be at risk for fraudulent charges.

But RCU’S Chief Financial Officer Jon Hehli says there is no need for any card holders to panic.

“The major financial associations are working feverishly to try and determined what cards were used during that time and is there a probability of fraud,” said Hehli.

So what exactly could the hackers have gotten from your card? Hehli says most likely they were able to access what’s called the track info; that includes your card number, name, expiration date and three digit security code on the back.

“Target doesn't know if pin numbers were compromised or not. Initially reports are that it probably was not but nothing has been confirmed,” said Hehli.

RCU and many other financial institutions are still waiting to hear how many and exactly which cards may have been.

"We are going to close the card and give you 15 business days that you can continue using the card. It’s the holidays we don’t want our members without a card and then your new one should arrive,” said Hehli.

RCU says they have not received any reports of fraud charges from their members. But Hehli says its important people watch their accounts.

U.S Bank and Wells Fargo are also asking customers to diligently watch their accounts. We also tried to contact Charter Bank but didn't hear back by our deadline.

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NEW YORK (NBC) --A big retail chain is "targeted" in what looks like a massive hacker attack, affecting millions of credit and debit card holders.

Minneapolis-based Target store says key information from as many as 40 million credit and debit cards may have been stolen.
That includes Target's own RedCard, plus MasterCard, Visa and the like.

The store says it regrets the inconvenience and has a team working to solve the crime.
The federal agents are investigating but all of this doesn't exactly put shoppers in a good Christmas mood.

It's a peak shopping season buzz kill – Target customers learning their credit card information might have been stolen.

"I might be done shopping at target for a little while,” said New York area shopper, Bill King.

Boston shoppers were worried as well.

"It’s really concerning because I’ve shopped here quite a few times since Black Friday; makes me want to go check out my accounts and make sure everything is straight,” said Katie Ballae, Boston area shopper.

Target says the problem started on Black Friday but wasn't detected until last Sunday. No online sales were involved.

"But I don't understand, with a retailer, with someone watching it, how it happens,” said Heather Garrett, Atlanta area shopper.

Experts guess: 17 days of credit card swipes in target's 1800 u-s stores got hacked; 40 million credit and debit cards possibly exposed.

The names, account numbers, expiration dates and security codes.

Target promotes its own cards, offering 5% cash back. Tut turns out, not full protection.

If you have one of those Target credit or debit cards, Experts say that's the best move is to cancel it, if you find suspicious activity.

Many customers say they trust target to fix the problem.
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With less than a week until Christmas, a real-life Grinch has stolen the credit and debit card information of about 40 million Target shoppers.

Target says anyone who made purchases by swiping cards at terminals in its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have had their accounts exposed. The stolen data includes customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the three-digit security codes located on the backs of cards.

The stolen information included Target store brand cards and major card brands such as Visa and MasterCard.

The data breach did not affect online purchases, the company said.

Here are some answers to the most common questions about the theft:

Q: I shopped at Target during that time. What should I do?

A: Check your credit card statements carefully. If you see suspicious charges, report the activity to your credit card companies and call Target at 866-852-8680. You can report cases of identity theft to law enforcement or the Federal Trade Commission.

You can get more information about identity theft on the FTC's website at www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or by calling the FTC, at (877) IDTHEFT (438-4338).

Q: How did the breach occur?

A: Target isn't saying how it happened. Industry experts note that companies such as Target spend millions of dollars each year on credit card security, making a theft of this magnitude particularly alarming.

Experts disagree about how the breach might have happened.

Avivah Litan, a security analyst with Gartner Research, says given all the security, she believes the breach may have been an inside job.

But thefts of this size are too big to be the work of company employees, says Ken Stasiak, founder and CEO of Secure State, a Cleveland-based information security firm that investigates data breaches like this one. Stasiak says that such breaches are generally perpetrated by organized crime or an overseas, state-sponsored hacker group.

Stasiak's theory is that the hackers were able to breach Target's main information hub and then wrote a code that gave them access to the company's point of sale system and all of its cash registers. That access allowed the hackers to capture the data from shoppers' cards as they were swiped.

James Lyne, global head of security research for the computer security firm Sophos, says something clearly went wrong with Target's security measures.

"Forty million cards stolen really shows a substantial security failure," he says. "This shouldn't have happened."

Q: Who pays if there are fraudulent charges on my account?

A: The good news is in most cases consumers aren't on the hook for fraudulent charges.

Credit card companies are often able to flag the charges before they go through and shutdown your card. If that doesn't happen, the card issuer will generally strip charges you claim are fraudulent off your card immediately.

And since the fraud has been tied to Target, it'll be the retailer that ultimately compensates the banks and credit card companies.

Q: How can I protect myself?

A: Like they say, cash is king. You can only lose what you're carrying, though admittedly many people may not feel safe walking around with a wad of bills in their pocket.

As stated before, credit card companies don't hold consumers liable for charges they don't make. Usually the worst thing consumers have to deal with is the hassle of getting a new credit card.

And the paper trail generated through credit card transactions can often make it easier do things such as return items you've purchased, or keep track of work-related expenses.

It's worth noting that while debit cards offer many of the same perks as credit cards, without the worry that you'll spend more than what's in your bank account, they often don't come with the same kind fraud protections.

As a result, those card holders may have a tougher time getting their money back if their number is stolen.

Q: How much is this going to cost Target?

A: It's too soon to tell. In addition to the fraud-related losses, banks may start charging Target a higher merchant discount rate, which is the amount retailers pay banks for providing debit and credit card services. While the percentage difference may be tiny, it could result in steep costs given the volume of transactions Target does, Litan says.

Litan added that the company could also face class action lawsuits from consumers, though most of them will be meritless, and fines from federal agencies. When combined, the costs of the breach could be so steep that they actually prompt Target to raise prices, she says.

"The real winner in this is Wal-Mart," she says.

Q: Can the bad guys be caught?

A: Stasiak says that given the sophistication of this attack, there's only about a 5 percent chance that the perpetrators will eventually be caught and prosecuted.

He notes that in cases like this, it's hard to determine where the attack originated and given the large mass of information involved it's not going to be found housed on someone's home computer.

Q: How can future breaches be prevented?

A: Litan says an easy way to prevent fraud would be to eliminate the use of easily cloned magnetic strip cards and upgrade to the kind of microchip technology used in most other parts of the world.

But she says banks have pushed back against the idea, because the microchip cards cost significantly more than the magnetic strip version and changing over all the country's ATMs could drive the total costs into the billions of dollars.

Lyne says it's unclear if the use of microchip cards would have prevented the Target breach, since it's unclear how it happened, but that it certainly wouldn't hurt.

Q: Why is the Secret Service investigating?

A: While it's most famous for protecting the president, the Secret Service also is responsible for protecting the nation's financial infrastructure and payment systems. As a result, it has broad jurisdiction over a wide variety of financial crimes. It isn't uncommon for the agency to investigate major thefts involving credit card information.
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) --Target says it's fixed the problem that allowed credit and debit card information on as many as 40 million accounts to be stolen. It says credit card holders can continue to shop at its stores.

But the chain also says customers should check their statements carefully for unauthorized charges.

Customers who see suspicious activity in their accounts are being told to call Target at 866-852-8680.

The accounts at risk are those of customers who swiped their cards at stores in the U.S. between November 27th and December 15th. The breach didn't affect online purchases. The stolen information included Target store brand cards and major card brands such as Visa and MasterCard.

Target isn't saying exactly how the data breach occurred. It says it's working with a third-party forensics firm to investigate it, and to prevent future breaches.

Target's stocked dipped about two percent in this morning's trading.
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) --Target says about 40 million credit and debit card accounts may have been affected by a data breach.

The chain said Thursday that the accounts may have been impacted between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.

The Minneapolis company said it immediately told authorities and financial institutions once it became aware of the breach and that it is teaming with a third-party forensics firm to investigate the matter.

Target Corp. said that customers who made purchases at its U.S. stores during the impacted period and suspected unauthorized activity should call them at 866-852-8680.

Target has 1,797 U.S. stores and 124 in Canada.


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