Target security breach: What you should know

If you shopped at Target stores between November 27 and December 15, 2013, and paid with a credit or debit card of any type, you need to be concerned about the Target security breach. You should actively monitor your accounts over the coming weeks and months.


Based on Target’s public statements, they have resolved the security breach and you should not be concerned about shopping there now and using a credit or debit card.

If you did shop at Target during the above period, and used a credit or debit card, you should be diligent about monitoring the future activity of the specific card(s) that you used during those visits.

  • If you paid with a Target Red credit card, you should monitor your Target credit card account online, at least weekly.
  • If you paid with any type of debit card (Target or any other bank debit card), then you should monitor that account activity. You should monitor the bank account which that account is tied to, to verify that there are no unauthorized withdrawals, now or in the future.
  • If you paid at Target with another credit card (such as an American Express card or Chase Visa, for example), then you need to monitor those credit card accounts going forward.

The Target security breach was related to the scanner devices used when you swiped your card. Based on statements by Target and other security experts, there is not a concern that social security numbers were taken.  Names, the account numbers and the expiration dates on the respective cards is the information that was “taken.”  The main concern is that duplicate cards will be illegally produced and used in the future.

Our recommendation is to regularly monitor any affected account that is tied to a card that was used at Target during this time period.

  • If you do find improper usage, report it immediately to the respective bank or credit card company.
  • Any improper activity is more likely to appear in the future, than to have already occurred.
  • Consumers are generally not responsible for fraudulent card activity,  so you will be reimbursed by the financial institution or Target, especially if you timely report any improper activity.
  • There is no way to know how many card holders will actually be affected by the Target security breach.

A few banks have taken steps already.  Chase is limiting debit card purchases and ATM withdrawals. If you used a Chase card at Target during the affected time period, you should have received an email from them directly. Chase is planning to issue new cards to all affected customers over the next two weeks. As of this time, Target is not planning to issue new RedCard debit or credit cards. Target is likely to provide credit reporting monitoring to affected card holders in the future.

The Target security breach did not involve, their online website. It only affected Target retail stores where cards can be swiped.

For further information directly from Target, click here.

Other recommendations:

Do not provide your social security number or any account number  in response to an email from what looks like a financial institution. For example, I recently received an email from Chase, that looked very much like it was from Chase, but was not. Whoever sent the email had created it to appear very similar to a Chase email notification.  Also, do not click on links within emails from financial institutions or be careful if you do. You can always originate an email yourself, call the company or go the company’s website yourself. That is safer than clicking on a link provided in an email that is sent to you from what you think is a financial  institution.

See this blog post, Truly Free Credit Reports, for information on checking your credit report. This is a good practice to do at least annually. However, I don’t think this is the best preventative measure in regards to the Target security breach.

If you have any questions about these matters, please contact our office. We are always striving to provide you and your family with financial security.


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