Four Lessons From Target’s Credit Card Breach

| January 1, 2014

-Four Lessons From Target's Credit Card Breach (1)In December 2013, U.S. retail giant Target was subject to a theft of credit and debit card information from upwards of 40 million customers. This crime affected nearly all Target consumers during the prime holiday shopping season from late November to mid-December, putting holiday shoppers at risk of identity theft. Many consumers are worried that they may be subject to future theft due to this massive breach. Here are four take-home tech lessons from Target’s credit card breach.

1) Debit cards are not so safe

When you use a debit card, it is the same as paying with a check. If you used a debit card and you have a dispute with the payment later, you will be fighting to get your money back. If a thief gets your debit card information and can use it in a sophisticated way, he or she can draw money from your bank account. You may not be able to get that money back. IT services companies in Philadelphia, New York, and elsewhere have noted a huge rise in attacks on debit cards each year.

2) Stores may have inadequate security

Target’s point of service machines that allowed Target employees to easily and efficiently check customers out apparently did not have in place adequate and required security measures to prevent data breach. Malware installed on the physical machines was able to gain a massive amount of data in a coordinated attack. If you are planning on shopping at smaller, potentially vulnerable stores, be sure to use a credit card with a small limit, or pay in cash. For example, some of the most common places where credit cards are skimmed and stolen is at gas station convenience stores. If you go in to purchase a drink or a snack on your next trip, be sure you pay with cash or a secure card.

3) Hackers are getting smarter

Card theft has been going up about 30 percent every year for the past few years, and most analysts predict that it will be nearly impossible for companies such as Target to be 100 percent immune from them. Inside jobs, attacks sponsored by foreign countries, and adversaries with enormous amounts of capital will be challenging to stop. If you don’t have some sort of identity theft insurance, you should consider investing in some. Especially as the amount of personal information available online grows, you do not want to leave something this important to chance. If a hacker can break into government or corporate websites, your accounts may not be as safe as you think. Hackers can take out loans in your name, or accrue debt if they have some of your information. Regularly checking your credit report for fraudulent activity should be part of your financial care routine.

-Four Lessons From Target's Credit Card Breach1

4) Consumers need technological know-how

This begins with setting up bank and credit card alerts that go out on a daily basis. Consumers need to be more wary about using debit cards at sketchy locations and should consider getting a card than cannot be used without a pin. With routine monitoring of credit card and bank statements, it is less likely that unauthorized purchases will go unnoticed. This may all seem difficult, and burdensome, but it is much easier than seeing your hard-earned money drained from your accounts, and watching your payments and checks bounce from insufficient funds.

While credit and debit cards are convenient, they carry with them many risks. People who use them may find themselves victim of a sophisticated attack such as the Target breach. Knowing a few basic tech lessons makes your risk of identity theft lower.


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Category: Business, Consumer Complaints, Identity Theft

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