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Target Says 40 Million Credit Cards Hacked

Submitted by on December 20, 2013 – 9:17 amNo Comment

The nation’s second largest retailer has bad news for holiday shoppers. Target confirmed this week that 40 million credit and debit card numbers used in brick-and-mortar stores between Black Friday (Nov. 27) and Dec. 15 may have been taken by hackers who breached the store’s nationwide system. The compromised information includes expiration dates, security codes, and cardholder names.

The news was first broken by security expert and reporter Brian Krebs.

The breach is not thought to have affected users of Target.com. Also, debit PIN numbers are not thought to have been taken.

It’s unknown at this point how the hackers gained access; but based on the scale of the attack, it is unlikely that the thieves used fake scanners or skimmers in stores. More likely, they gained access to Target software or servers, either working with someone on the inside, or taking advantage of an oversight or vulnerability.

Similar attacks have hit Barnes & Nobles, TJX, and Heartland Payment Systems in recent years.

Consumers who think they may have been a victim of the attack should monitor their credit card activity closely, and immediately report any suspicious activity to their credit card company.

Fraud should additionally be reported to law enforcement agencies, like the Federal Trade Commission or Secret Service (which investigates financial crimes in the US).

Also, 90-day Fraud Alerts can be placed on your credit reports from all three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), indicating that you may be the victim of identity theft, and providing additional security measures. The process can be done online, and applying to just one agency will automatically alert the other two.

[image by Damian Dovarganes/AP]

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