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Target says up to 40 million people affected by account data breach

Customers leave a Target store with merchandise on October 10, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.
Customers leave a Target store with merchandise on October 10, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

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This week brings bad news if you shopped at Target over the past three weeks.

The company announced that up to 40 million people may have been affected by a security breach of credit and debit card data.  

The chain said that accounts of customers who made purchases by swiping their cards at terminals in its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have been exposed. The stolen data includes customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the three-digit security codes located on the backs of cards. The data breach did not affect online purchases.

The Minneapolis company said it immediately told authorities and financial institutions once it became aware of the breach and that it is teaming with a third-party forensics firm to investigate the matter and prevent future breaches. It said it is putting all "appropriate resources" toward the issue.

Target Corp. advised customers to check their statements carefully. Those who suspect there has been unauthorized activity on their cards should report it to their credit card companies and call Target at 866-852-8680. Cases of identity theft can also be reported to law enforcement or the Federal Trade Commission.

Clifford Neuman, director of the USC Center for Computer Systems Security, joins the show to talk about this latest data theft and how you can protect yourself. 

RELATED: Target: 40M card accounts may be breached

With contributions from the Associated Press