If you’re one of the 40 million victims of the massive Target data breach, it looks like you’re in good company.
Target announced Friday in a press release that it has unearthed evidence that more customer information was compromised in last month’s data breach than was originally suspected. After originally stating in December that credit card and debit card account numbers had been stolen, along with encrypted PIN numbers and magnetic strip data, the company is now alerting customers that names, mailing addresses, phone numbers or email addresses were also compromised as part of the breach.
The retailer says the discovery of the additional data theft now expands the breach to 70 million Target customers, instead of the originally forecasted 40 million. What is not entirely clear from the Target press release is whether the 70 million includes the original 40 million, is in addition to it, or overlaps it.
Regardless, it’s not just the increase in victims that makes this development in the breach particularly noteworthy. While cases of fraud against affected customers haven’t been abnormally high, the larger concern is that more data being compromised means identity thieves now have more information to use in trying to access victims’ financial accounts, and may impact how some financial institutions have been asking their affected customers to deal with the breach.
Deena Coffman, CEO of security company IdentityTheft911 Consulting, says the newest update on the data breach has broader implications than many realize.
“Now the thieves have enough to set up fake Facebook and LinkedIn pages that will look legitimate enough for friends and family to connect or to call customer service lines for financial or retail accounts and validate name, address, email (which is often an account name) and credit card number,” she says.
The more information a fraudster has about you, the easier it is for them to get access to your current accounts or to open new accounts in your name.
Target is offering free credit monitoring for a year to all customers who shopped in its U.S. stores, and shoppers will have three months to sign up for the services. Also, Target says no customer will be held liable for any fraudulent charges due to the breach.
“I know that it is frustrating for our guests to learn that this information was taken and we are truly sorry they are having to endure this,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and chief executive officer, Target. “I also want our guests to know that understanding and sharing the facts related to this incident is important to me and the entire Target team.”
If you’re worried about your identity becoming compromised in the Target data breach, read up on how to spot signs that you’ve been compromised, and consider using a free tool like the Credit Report Card to monitor your credit scores on a monthly basis in addition to the credit monitoring Target is offering. A sudden drop in your scores can be a sign of identity theft.
More on Identity Theft:
- Identity Theft: What You Need to Know
- How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?
- 3 Dumb Things You Can Do With Email
- The Risks You Face From Identity Theft
- How Can You Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen?
- What Should I Do If I’m a Victim of Identity Theft?
- How Credit Impacts Your Day-to-Day Life
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