About 40 million credit and debit card accounts were impacted by a major security breach at Target stores across the country, the company confirmed.
Credit card data likely was stolen between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 through point-of-sale machines and thefts include customers' names, credit and debit card numbers, and security codes.
What now? For customers whose information was stolen, the owners of insurance firm Protect Your Bubble suggest following a quick checklist of dos and don'ts.
- Monitor your banking activity and credit cards daily. Be on the lookout for suspicious activity
- If you think you might be at risk of a data breach, change important passwords such as online banking and ATM.
- Do not open any emails or click on any links from banking institutions
- Do not share private information over the phone with someone who might call you saying they are from your bank
- Consider identity theft protection
The Better Business Bureau notes that identity theft is still the fastest growing white collar crime and urges customers to do these five things:
- Contact the organization that suffered the breach
- Check every item on your banking and credit statements
- Contact any affected financial companies and request that the account be closed and a new one opened
- File a fraud alert with all three credit reporting agencies
- Sign up for any free credit report monitoring that’s offered
“With access to information such as pin numbers, it is very important for consumers to develop good habits for protecting this type of information as well as passwords used to access credit card accounts” said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the BBB.
Target said it is "putting all appropriate resources behind these efforts" and recommends anyone who shopped at the store during the breach should check their accounts and immediately report any suspicious activity.
Victims of unauthorized activity should also call Target at 866-852-8680.
Prof. William Kresse, a security expert at Saint Xavier University, said the theft could be as big as it looks.
"If it pans out the way it seems to be looking, this could be the biggest credit card breach in the history of credit card breaches."