Target Data Breach Puts 40 Million Customer Credit Cards at Risk

Target on Thursday confirmed reports that hackers gained access to credit and debit card data during the holiday shopping season. According to Target, around 40 million payment card accounts may have been impacted between November 27 and December 15, 2013. That time frame falls right in the midst of the some of the busiest shopping days of the year, starting with the day before Thanksgiving and on through the middle of December.

"Target’s first priority is preserving the trust of our guests and we have moved swiftly to address this issue, so guests can shop with confidence. We regret any inconvenience this may cause," said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and chief executive officer, Target. "We take this matter very seriously and are working with law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice."

Unfortunately for Target and its customers affected by the data breach, hackers hit the jackpot by making off with customer names, credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates, and even the CVV (three digit security code) number on the back of cards.

Target Checkout

Naturally if you shopped at Target during the dates specified and use a credit or debit card to pay for your purchase, you'll want to monitor those accounts closely for fraudulent activity. You should monitor monetary accounts anyway - Tis the season for scammers.

Case in point -- I recently had my Newegg account hacked with an attempted $822 charge to a saved payment option I had on file. It was denied, but not for lack of effort on the culprit's part. Whoever was responsible had spam bombed my associated Gmail account at the same time. Why? It's a popular diversion tactic hackers use, both to keep you busy while they do whatever it is they're doing (plucking funds from your PayPal account, making fraudulent charges, etc), and to bury notification emails from sites they're ordering from in your name.

Point being, miscreants are out in full force this time of year. Educate yourself on their tactics, and be diligent so you can spend the holiday season relaxing and rejoicing rather than raging mad as you report fraudulent charges.