On December 18, 2013 news broke that Target had suffered a security breach and in upwards of 40 million credit cards may have been impacted between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. This information included the customer name, credit or debit card number, the card’s expiration date and the CVV code. This incident does not affect purchases made online and does not include every purchaser during that time frame. Here is a link to the notice from Target to its customers (https://corporate.target.com/discover/article/Important-Notice-Unauthorized-access-to-payment-ca)
Many people want answers as to “how” this happened. While it is important for Target to get to the root cause of this problem, the “how” doesn’t change the mindset of how the consumer can protect himself.
Inevitably, the information that was accessed will end up in the under ground markets for sale to criminals. The biggest action you (the consumer) can do is monitor your credit card statements on a regular basis. If you notice fraudulent transactions appear then contact your financial institution immediately to take the proper steps to get it taken care of. Time is of the essence when reporting those fraudulent charges.
Often times the credit card transactions are not large purchases, but just small amounts. The criminals will charge a very small amount just to test to see if the credit card or debit card is working. Once they have confirmed this, they will then move forward with using this for a larger purchase.
Target is not the first company to suffer unauthorized access to customer information and it certainly will not be the last. While this incident has been widely publicized, it is no different than any of the other breaches that occur. Consumers should always practice the one key step of constantly monitoring their financial statements. This is the best way to protect yourself from becoming a victim.