Hackers looking to target all credit accounts, not just Target

By Dale Dixon/ Trust evangelist

After reading news of hackers stealing credit card numbers from Target, I realized I have shopped at the store within the past month. What do I need to do to protect my money?

If you used a credit card at Target in the past few weeks, don’t panic! You can take proactive steps. You are not liable for ANY fraudulent charges on your account.Target-logo-v.-1

Target has the following information posted on its website:

  • The unauthorized access took place in U.S. Target stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, 2013.  Canadian stores and target.com were not affected.
  • Even if you shopped at Target during this time frame, it doesn’t mean you are a victim of fraud. In fact, in other similar situations, there are typically low levels of real fraud.
  • There is no sign that PIN numbers have been compromised on affected bank issued PIN debit cards or Target debit cards. Someone cannot visit an ATM with a fraudulent debit card and withdraw cash.

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 if you need to prove which charges you authorized and which ones you did not.

If you used a debit card at Target in the past few weeks, you should be more assertive in paying attention to your account. You may have some liability if you fail to report unauthorized charges within 60 days after your statement is sent to you. Target is in the process of notifying banks and credit card issuers, who will in turn notify affected customers. You can contact your bank or credit card issuer for more information if you want to pre-emptively ask for a new debit card or put a security block on your account.

For EVERYONE, not just those who shopped at Target:

Scammers will likely use this highly public event to create emails purporting to be from Target, your bank or your credit card issuer, telling you your card was compromised and suggesting actions to “fix” the problem. 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 to your computer that are designed to steal your identity. Don’t click on any email links or attachments unless you are absolutely certain the sender is authentic.

If your credit card is physically lost or stolen, you may be liable for no more than $50. In the Target case, the liability is zero for credit cards because the cards were not physically stolen. There may be some liability in the case of compromised debit card numbers where the fraud is not reported for more than 60 days after a statement is issued.

You can check your credit reports annually for free to make sure no one has fraudulently opened credit accounts in your name. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com.

If you own a business, make sure you protect your customers’ data. Better Business Bureau just updated our Data Security – Made Simpler guide for businesses. Go bbb.org/data-security for this free information.

Bottom line: This is a rare occurrence. Be diligent in monitoring your accounts.

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