Target breach isn't as unusual as you might think
The recent breach of security at Target that could have affected up to 40 million customers of the retail giant nationwide, unfortunately, isn’t as much of an aberration as shoppers might think.
Instead, it’s just a security threat that happens periodically, but this time on a massive scale during the most inopportune time of the Christmas shopping season.
“Hundreds of data breaches occur every year at retailers, health care providers, government agencies and other organizations, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, which has been tracking them for the past eight years,” reports the Better Business Bureau.
An identity theft report issued this year by Javelin Strategy and Research found that one in four consumers were notified that their information may have been compromised in a data breach, according to the Better Business Bureau.
“Consumers who receive notification from Target that their information was part of the data breach should take it seriously, but not panic,” said Randy Hutchinson, president of the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South.
If your information was part of a security breach, it doesn’t automatically mean you’ll become a victim of fraud or identity theft, according to the N.C. Attorney General’s Office.
“But it does put you at greater risk,” the Attorney General’s Office reports. “This breach is a good reminder that we all need to watch our accounts for unauthorized charges and monitor our credit, especially during the busy holiday shopping season.”
Here are some tips from consumer advocates on how to cope with security breaches or the threat of them:
• Check your credit and debit card accounts and report suspicious charges to your bank or credit card company immediately. Also, request a new card with a different card number and change any personal identification numbers or passwords for the account that was or may have been breached.
• Take seriously any notifications that your information may have been compromised in a data breach. Most companies will set up a hotline to address concerns and answer questions.
• Be aware of scammers taking advantage of the publicity about the Target security breach. Con artists may contact you pretending to be from Target, your bank or credit card issuer, seeking personal financial information. If in doubt, contact a company independently with security questions, not through the way offered in an email, phone call or social media contact by a possible con artist.
• Consider filing a fraud alert with the three main credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The agencies will flag your credit report for 90 days and notify you if someone tries to open a new account using your information.
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