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Target’s Security Breach and Identity Theft Threats

On December 19, 2013, Target issued a statement confirming a major security breach. According to the statement, approximately 40 million customers were at risk for identity theft because of the breach. Hackers had gained access to customer information, including their names, credit card numbers, debit card numbers, card expiration dates, and security codes. This incident brought light to the ongoing threat of identify theft for customers who use credit or debit cards to make purchases, either in stores or online. With this growing threat, consumers need to take care to protect themselves against potential attacks.

What Is the Extent of the Target Security Breach?

According to Target’s investigations, the hackers began accessing customer information from before Thanksgiving until mid-December. With the information they stole, which is stored on a card’s magnetic strip, the hackers could have made purchases all around the world. Indeed, hackers can also use this information to create new credit or debit cards. Although, there is no evidence the hackers also stole pin numbers, but if they had, they could have withdrawn money from customers’ bank accounts. The United States Secret Service is looking into this massive security breach. In the past, federal and state authorities have held companies liable, even issuing fines, if investigations reveal that a company did not take adequate steps to protect customer information. Analysts predict that here Target may have to spend over $100 million in legal costs to fix the security breach. Costs will increase even more if it’s forced to reimburse credit card companies for fraudulent purchases. However, in the meantime, Target’s first priority has been to act quickly to secure and protect customer information. Although, they have not reached any conclusions, initial investigations suggest the breach could have come entirely from outside hackers, or it could have been achieved with help from its employees. Either way, this level of a security breach suggests that it reached deep within the corporation.

How Can Consumers Protect Their Identification and Financial Information?

Experts confirm that cyber-criminals are always coming up with new ways to threaten company security. So, companies should always revise their security systems after a breach to keep up with the ever-changing wave of cyber crime. In light of the constant threat, consumers can take steps to protect their identities and financial security, regardless of where they shop. First, it is most important to act quickly. If you discover that your credit or debit card information has been compromised, you must immediately call the card company to freeze the account. Monitoring bank accounts and credit card statements will also ensure that you catch a potential breach early. Also, after checking accounts and statements online, or completing online purchases, it is important to clear all passwords and log out of the accounts. This makes it more difficult for hackers to trace and steal your information. Victims of identity theft may also face a dramatic drop in their credit scores. By monitoring your credit report, you can also ensure that your records are clean and accurate, which will help secure loans and credit cards in the future.

At the Law Offices of Salar Atrizadeh, we provide clients with the guidance and legal expertise to protect against cybercrime. With our experience and knowledge in the various threats that exist today, we seek solutions to fit our clients’ needs. You may contact us to set up a free and confidential consultation.