Target Credit Card Database Hacked; Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Presents

Illustration for article titled Target Credit Card Database Hacked; Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Presents

On Thursday, Target announced that a credit and debit card security breach has affected more than 40 million of their customers. Online hackers broke into the retailer's database the day before Thanksgiving and squirreled around in there until Dec. 15, reports the New York Times. Then the retail giant's officials said this:

Target said it had confirmed that its online customers were not affected by the breach, which appears to have been isolated to the point-of-sale systems in Target’s retail stores.

Target said that cybercriminals had accessed customer names, credit or debit card numbers, expiration dates and three-digit security codes for 40 million customers who had shopped at its stores.


Target called the Secret Service, which is now investigating the crime. The retailer has told customers to double check their credit and debit card statements for odd purchases, and to check their credit reports for nefarious additional cards. Did you buy anything from Target recently?

And to think, so many thought Target's fight with Beyoncé was going to be the retailer's coal under the Christmas tree.



Having had my identity stolen completely once, and my debit information stolen more times than I can count, here's some advice for those who may be affected:

The biggest thing: Check your accounts more than daily. Hourly, if you can. Here's a few reasons why:

* Test charges happen, and the crooks are SMART about it. I've caught test charges that were disguised as a parking lot fee for a lot that I park in a couple times a month - it just so happened that I wasn't in that town the weekend the testers used it. They've appeared as McDonald's charges (one is less than a half mile from my house, but I don't eat there ever) and charity donations (I donate frequently, but have a particular amount I always give. Helps my drunk donating stay in check)

If you find a questionable charge for a couple dollars, call your bank immediately, challenge the charge and close the debit card.

* Many retailers batch out their CC machines at the end of the day (still). If youcatch the charge the day it happens, they can often void the charge immediately and not put it through. If you wait until the next morning, it becomes a huge hassle and you're out (in my case) thousands of dollars while they "investigate" and keep the cash. And no matter how innocent you are, they may decide that you actually did place the order, and you'll have to challenge them through your credit or debit card bank - all while they hold the money, and IF you win the challenge, you still have to wait the 3 to 5 business days for your bank to credit your account.

If you don't catch the tester charge and your account is used for a big purchase, call the retailer(s) immediately and challenge all unapproved charges. Inform them that you'll be challenging the charges through your credit/debit card bank - this is especially effective if an AmEx is involved.

Then, call the cops. Get a paper trail started - that paper trail has helped me immensely in pressuring retailers and my credit/debit card bank into action.

Immediately alert your landlord/mortgage holder, and any creditors you need to pay. You'll be surprised how accommodating these folks will be. Not all of them, but enough to warm your heart.

Let people lend you money/buy you drinks as necessary. This is insanely stressful, and alcohol helps you cope.