By BRIAN SMITH
With an estimated 40 million credit or debit cards belonging to Target customers involved in a security breach, there will certainly be some local customers affected. Though as of Friday there was no confirmation on a number of local customers’ accounts involved.
In a press release, the company says it “alerted authorities and financial institutions immediately after it was made aware of the unauthorized access, and is putting all appropriate resources behind these efforts.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. Secret Service confirmed to the Associated Press that it is in fact investigating the incident. The type of data stolen — also known as “track data” — allows crooks to create counterfeit cards by encoding the information onto any card with a magnetic stripe. Customers who made purchases by swiping their cards at stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have had their accounts exposed. The stolen data included customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the embedded code on the magnetic strip found on the backs of cards, Target said.
If the thieves were also able to intercept PIN data for debit transactions, they would theoretically be able to reproduce stolen debit cards and use them to withdraw cash from ATMs.
The sophisticated hack reportedly took place over several weeks — starting on Black Friday — and is said to involve “nearly all” Target stores in the United States.
Target customers spoken to locally say they have not noticed any difference in the accounts. Beveraly Coulter said she has been a Target customer for years and the incident hasn’t affected her.
“Very few people carry cash anymore because the card is easier and the funds replaced if they get lost,” Coulter said. “I’d still rather use a card for that reason alone. It’s not Target’s fault. It could have happened anywhere.”