We first learned of the Target data breach on December 18, 2013. At the time, it was reported that about 40 million people who shopped in their stores between November 27th and December 15th, were affected by the data breach. However, last week we learned that an additional 70 million people may have been affected. What’s more is that the information stolen also includes names, mailing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, not just the card information as previously thought.
How did this happen? CNBC reported that malware in the point-of-sale terminals at Target checkout counters was invoiced. The specific type of malware has not been specified. Experts still are not sure how hackers were able to breach the system.
What should you do? We recommend keeping a close eye on your credit card and bank statements. If you see any suspicious behavior at all, report it to your bank immediately. Banks have been quick to issue new credit and debit cards to customers, whether they were affected by the breach or not, as a precautionary measure.
We also recommend watching for phishing emails/scams. Cybercriminals could use the news to send emails that appear to come from the retailer or from your bank. The email could include a link to a website made to look like the bank or retailer, but is actually fraud and an attempt to trick you into providing personal information. Be vigilant.
Additionally, Target said it will offer free credit-monitoring and identity-theft protection to all customers in its U.S.-based stores. If you believe you’ve been affected by the breach, you can call the Target hotline dealing with the breach: 1-866-852-8680. Target CEO, Gregg W. Steinhafel, has stated that he will make things right and that stores will be contacting affected customers by email.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is. In 2007, TJX brands T.J. Maxx and Marshalls experienced a similar data breach in which customers had their data stolen. To date, it was the largest data breach; the Target breach has the potential to surpass it.