Target credit card breach update: Worried shoppers switch to cash

The sign in front of a Target store in Novato, Calif.

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Target had just been hit by one of the biggest retail store data breaches in history. But that didn’t stop Chris Lai from braving rain and cold Thursday to shop at the downtown Pasadena store.

"I’m not nervous about shopping at Target," said Lai, of Monterey Park. "I’m nervous about using credit cards."

Lai said he planned to buy his groceries at Target with cash, after learning hackers had stolen credit and debit card information from about 40 million people who shopped at its stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.

In a statement released today, Target said that the stolen information "included customer name, credit or debit card number, and the card’s expiration date and CVV (the three-digit security code)."

The AP reports that the stolen data came from both Target store brand cards and major card brands such as Visa and MasterCard.

Target shopper Elizabeth Bour of Altadena knows  how irresistible the holidays are to hackers.

A consultant specializing in risk management and banking systems, Bour told KPCC that "the higher the volume (of sales), the more credit card numbers they can get and this is the heaviest shopping time of the year."

Bour said she reduces her risk of credit card fraud by switching entirely to cash during the holidays. That can mean carrying large amounts of cash around, which Bour admitted can be a little scary.

"I always stay in the safer shopping areas and shop during the days," Bour said. "I only bring enough cash for that day's shopping and I have learned to be very careful."

Other shoppers have the same idea:
 


If you must use plastic, experts say that credit cards offer more fraud protection to consumers than debit cards.

Debit cards work by drawing money directly from bank accounts. So a hack could expose the debit card holder to greater losses.

Still 0ther shoppers, though, brushed off warnings of security breaches, and resisted changing their shopping habits.

"Everybody gets their fair share of getting hacked, I believe, anyway, in this world," said DaMon Burgess, a mental health counselor from Riverside.

“We have criminals, they still exist, and this is another company being hit," Burgess said. "Hopefully they’ll to keep this from happening again."
 

Checklist for Target shoppers who may have been hacked:

  • Check your credit card statements carefully.
  • If you see suspicious charges, report the activity to your credit card companies and call Target at 866-852-8680. You can report cases of identity theft to law enforcement or the Federal Trade Commission.
  • You can get more information about identity theft on the FTC's website at www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or by calling the FTC, at (877) IDTHEFT (438-4338).

Source: Associated Press

This story has been updated.

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