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Data breach puts Target customers at risk

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, December 21, 2013

Local banks are asking their customers, particularly those who have shopped at Target in the past month, to watch their checking accounts closely.

On Thursday, retail giant Target announced that up to 40 million credit and debit card accounts might have been compromised by a data breach. Affected are those who swiped their Target store-brand cards, debit cards or credit cards in U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.

Target said in a press release that the information at risk includes customer names, credit or debit card numbers and the card’s expiration date and three-digit security code. Purchases made online are not at risk, the store said.

The store announced it has partnered with “a leading third-party forensics firm” to investigate the incident and help find ways to prevent future occurrences.

Cyd Bailey with First State Bank in Chico said Thursday that around 250 of their customers are potentially affected. She said customers who are Christmas shopping this weekend might find some debit cards not working as the mess is sorted out.

“If people are going shopping, they need to bring cash or a checkbook along, something other than just a debit card for the next few days,” she said.

Andrew Rottner, president of North Texas Bank in Decatur, said his bank has already taken steps to educate its employees about the situation and how to assist customers who have concerns.

“Customers should always be diligent about monitoring their account activity, preferably daily,” Rottner said in an emailed message. “If a customer suspects any type of fraudulent activity on their account, they should immediately call their bank or the number on the back of their card to report the fraudulent activity and cancel their card.”

He added that card issuers might strengthen their fraud detection routines due to the data breach that lead to more “false positives,” meaning legitimate transactions being declined.

“In this event, please be patient and call your bank to report the matter,” he wrote.

According to the Better Business Bureau, the problem could be compounded from scammers looking to take advantage of this widely publicized event. A scammer could call and say they are from Target or a credit card company telling you your account has been affected and offer to “fix” the problem, when in reality they are trying to trick you into giving out your card information.

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