In Thursday’s News Courier, we reported on local people who had their bank accounts compromised electronically.
They were among several others in the area whose credit card and debit card numbers were stolen from businesses by computer hacking.
On Thursday, Target reported that data connected to about 40 million credit and debit card accounts was stolen as part of a breach that began over the Thanksgiving weekend.
The chain said customers who made purchases by swiping their 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.
As in the local victims, the stolen information included cards issued by Visa and MasterCard. Target issued a warning for consumers and is working with banks and credit card issuers to alert them to which numbers were stolen.
The Better Business Bureau said customers should not “panic” over the incidents.
“First of all, if you used a credit card at Target in the past few weeks, don’t panic,” said Carrie Hurt, president/CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “You are not liable for any fraudulent charges on your account, and there are some simple things you can do to make sure your card was not used fraudulently.
“You can expect to hear from your bank if your card information is identified as having been compromised, and you can always call the customer service number on your card if you have a question.”
Here are some tips from the Better Business Bureau.
For those who shopped at Target with a credit card:
• Monitor your credit card statements carefully (go online; don’t wait for the paper statement).
• 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 as for credit cards, but pay very careful attention to 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.
For everyone, not just those who shopped at Target:
• 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.
For businesses that collect customer information:
• Make sure you protect your customers’ data. If a data breach can happen to a major retailer with significant data security measures in place, it can happen to any business.
• Check out BBB’s updated online guide “Data Security – Made Simpler” for free information on how to create a data security plan.
For information, call 256-533-1640 or 800-239-1642 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.