Target said Thursday that 40 million of its customers’ credit and debit card data may have been stolen by cyber-crooks during the busy holiday season.
The Minneapolis retailer said the breach - which occurred between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 – may mean that criminals now have shoppers’ names, payment card numbers, expiration dates and three-digit security codes at their disposal.
The company said the breach affects Target patrons who made purchases at U.S. stores.
If you are among those who shopped at Target during the affected time period, here are five things you can do to protect yourself.
1.) The first one is obvious: Check your credit card or bank statement, if you used a debit card, for any fraudulent activity. Look for any suspicious purchases -- small or large -- and other activity that you did not authorize.
2.) Call your financial institution to immediately report any fraud or suspicious activity. If there hasn't been any such activity detected, you can sign up for fraud monitoring services, which are typically free.
3.) Report any detected fraud to the Federal Trade Commission. You can do online here or by calling 877-438-4338.
4.) If your account has been compromised, it's a good idea to place a fraud alert on your credit report. Doing so is free and the alert is active for 90 days. You can always renew the alert. Taking this step makes it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name. It ensures that any company must verify your identity before issuing credit.
5.) You can also place a security freeze on your credit report. This would prohibit a credit reporting agency from releasing information without your prior consent.
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