On Dec. 28, shoppers approach Target department store in Aviation Mall, Queensbury. Nationally, Target suffered a breach of customers' credit card information that was the second largest in history. Those customers who used any credit or debit cards at Target between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 have their credit information at risk of being stolen and misused. See article that details appropriate actions that can be taken to minimize problems.
The Better Business Bureau of upstate New York offered advice this week for Target customers concerned that their credit or debit cards may have been compromised by the retailer’s recent data breach.
Warren Clark, president of the agency, said this week that Target customers will not be liable for any fraudulent charges on their account, and some simple actions can make sure their cards are protected from crime.
Target is working with banks and credit card issuers to alert them to which numbers were stolen, he said. The cardholders that may have had their card data — including security codes — exposed to criminals were those bank cards and credit cards used in Target stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.
“You can expect to hear from your bank if your card information is identified as having been compromised,” he said, noting that customers should call the customer service phone number on their card if they have questions.
The Better Business Bureau offers the following advice for those who shopped at Target with a credit or debit card during the dates in question:
• Monitor your credit card statements carefully — scrutinize online; don’t wait for a paper statement.
• Sign up for the free credit monitoring service that Target announced to protect potential victims of the data breach.
• If you see a fraudulent charge, report it to your bank or credit card issuer immediately so the charge can be reversed and a new card issued.
• Keep receipts in case you need to prove which charges you authorized and which ones you did not.
For those who shopped at Target with a debit card:
• Do all of the above, but also scrutinize your account, as debit cards do not have the same protections as credit cards and debit transactions withdraw funds directly from your bank account. Contact your bank for more information, or if you want to pre-emptively request a new debit card or put a security block on your account.
• Consider a fraud alert with all three credit reporting agencies – The credit reporting agencies are required by law to flag your credit report for 90 days if you file a fraud alert. Then if someone tries to open a new account using your information you should be contacted for verification.
• Sign up for free credit report monitoring that’s offered, but make sure it’s legitimate. If Target offers a free monitoring program, take advantage of it.
• Keep monitoring your account: For those who have been exposed to a breach of data, it’s important to continue to examine account statements for two or more years. Unless there is clear proof that the data never fell into criminal hands, there is still a point of concern for the exposed consumer. Smart criminals understand that the data is “hot” for a year or so. It’s not unusual for crooks to wait to delay use of stolen data.
For all credit card holders:
• Beware of scammers who will likely use this highly public event to purport to be from Target, your bank or your credit card issuer, telling you that your card was compromised and suggesting actions to “fix” the problem.
• Check before you click — “phishing” emails may attempt to fool you into providing your credit card information or ask you to click on a link or open an attachment, which can download malware designed to steal your identity. Don’t click on any email links or attachments unless you are absolutely certain the sender is authentic.
• Contact any affected financial companies – If your bank accounts, credit card accounts, or investment accounts are affected, immediately contact the companies and request that the account be closed and a new one opened.
Many advertisements claim to offer “free credit reports,” or “free credit monitoring.” Often, the service is free only if you sign up for another paid service. The best way to check your report is through AnnualCreditReport.com, a service sponsored by the three nationwide credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and Transunion.
The service is available online or by calling (877) 322-8228, and it allows consumers to get a free report from each agency once a year. Consumers also may go to the website and download a request form that can be mailed to an address in Atlanta.