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Staying Safe After Target Breach

Updated: 12/20/2013 4:41 PM
Created: 12/19/2013 4:43 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

Target announced a security breach has put 40 million payment cards swiped in the companies stores at risk. A local banker said cancelling your card is the best safety step.

Target said the breach was resolved on Thursday, but the compromised information included card numbers, expiration dates and even customer names. Target said on Friday that the breached information did not include the security codes on the back of customer cards.

Shoppers were shocked that any credit or debit card swiped at U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 could be at risk.

“That's a lot of people. Forty million is a lot of people,” Margaret Hodnik said.

She said she frequently shops at Target in Duluth and certainly swiped her card there during the breach. Still the unauthorized access didn't surprise her in this digital age.

“As consumers we have to be vigilant, as corporations they have to be vigilant, the government has to be vigilant in this day of internet hacking,” Hodnik said.

Target has not released how the breach occurred, but local bankers said big retailers can be a gold mine of financial information.

“There's always going to be somebody that's trying to get in and eventually if you're a big enough target, excuse the expression, they'll find a way in,” Dale Lewis said.

Lewis is the president of Park State Bank in Duluth. She said customers called in on Thursday looking to protect their accounts. Lewis said to watch account statements, online if possible, and check credit reports closely. She said the best step is to get rid of the risky card.

“It is our strongest recommendation to close the card immediately, use other cards, and we'll issue new cards immediately. We don't want to cut them off at this time of the year. It's a tough thing to deal with,” Lewis said.

That could spoil holiday shopping plans, but how will customers respond to the Target breach. Some may avoid the store, but Hodnik said we take a risk every time we swipe our cards.

“Oh definitely I will shop at Target. This could happen at any retailer in this day and age. It isn't just an issue with one company. It could happen anywhere,” Hodnik said.

Lewis said this will not be wrapped up quickly. She said fraudulent charges can show up months later depending on when that breached information is used.

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