Identity Theft

Target CEO Is Out After Data Breach

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Today’s candidate for least surprising news of the day: Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s president, CEO and chairman of the board of directors, has stepped down following the 2013 data breach that compromised millions of customers’ credit card, debit card and personal information.

Because the breach was so massive, disruptive and frustrating to customers, it makes sense for the company to shake up leadership. There’s not much else to be done at this point: The data is out there, so all Target could do was make changes going forward.

It offered credit monitoring to affected customers within a few weeks of the breach announcement — which is a standard data-breach response. And in February, Target accelerated its plan to implement chip-and-PIN credit card technology for stores’ point of sale (POS) systems and in its REDcards by early 2015 (more than six months earlier than previously scheduled, the company said). Last week, Target announced the hiring of Bob DeRodes, the new executive vice president and chief information officer, who is tasked with enhancing security in wake of the breach.

Now, the guy who was in charge during the breach is out. Steinhafel, who has been with Target for 35 years, is staying on as an adviser during the transition.

Staying Alert

Target isn’t the only one still recovering from the breach five months ago — consumers remain concerned about security.

By now, you’ve probably replaced any cards compromised in the breach, but the attack put more than credit card numbers at risk. If you haven’t changed your credentials for the Target website or your Target REDcard portal, it’s still a good idea to do that. Target said it wasn’t affected by the Heartbleed bug, which leaked login credentials across the Web, but if you were using similar usernames and passwords for affected sites, it’s a good idea to reset everything. Hackers can sometimes piece together information from one site and figure out how to access your accounts on other sites.

The breach also highlighted the importance of checking your bank statements regularly. Although Target offered credit monitoring to the breach victims, it’s important to note that checking your credit reports and credit scores is just as important as checking your bank and credit card statements. (You can check two of your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.) Credit monitoring can help you detect new account fraud, which requires the use of your Social Security number to open new accounts — but in this breach, Social Security numbers were not compromised. Credit monitoring can also reveal existing account fraud that goes undetected and unpaid by you.

You’re better off detecting existing account fraud early on by checking all of your statements frequently. If you aren’t looking at your credit and debit card transactions on a regular basis, it can be difficult to spot unauthorized activity, allowing thieves to get away with using your money. Take the time to regularly change your passwords for online accounts, and make it a habit to check your bank and card statements daily.

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Image: Gualtiero Boffi

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