Fallston Group

Target Security Breach Affects 40 Million

Target faces multiple law suits after a security breach during late November and early this month. Angry customers claim the discount retailer “failed to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures” when about 40 million customers had their credit and debit card data taken. Target said there is no indication that customer’s dates of birth or social security numbers were taken and that they are working closely with the United States Secret Service as the investigation continues.

This is not the first time a very large company has been data breached. AOL in 2006, Monster.com in 2007 and Sony Play Station Network in 2011 all have had their security databases breached, causing millions of customers time and money while adversely impacting the company’s reputation. Customer confidence was shaken in all cases.

Credit and debit cards have become a certainty for most people in today’s retail world. There are, however, risks with each transaction, no matter the size of purchase or distributer. Customers can limit the risk of each swipe by frequently checking transactions through online banking. Report all transactions not approved. Doing so makes suspicious activity recognizable early enough to protect your money and the corporation in which the breach has taken place. An extra step that can be taken is keeping all of your receipts for proof of transaction.  If a breach is not recognized early enough, incidents like Target’s can arise and ruin reputations and ultimately cost you money.

The following precautionary steps are recommended for all people going forward, not just Target customers who may or may not have been affected (al.com):

For everyonenot just those who shopped at Target:

  • Beware of scammers who will likely use this highly public event to purport to be from Target, your bank or your credit card issuer, telling you that your card was compromised and suggesting actions to “fix” the problem.
  • Check before you click. Phishing emails may attempt to fool you into providing your credit card information or ask you to click on a link or open an attachment, which can download malware designed to steal your identity.
  • Don’t click on any email links or attachments unless you are absolutely certain the sender is authentic.

For all businesses that collect customer information:

  • Make sure you protect your customers’ data. If a data breach can happen to a major retailer with significant data security measures in place, it can happen to any business.
  • Check out BBB’s updated online guide Data Security – Made Simpler for free information on how to create a data security plan.

For more information and resources on data breaches and specific safety and security concerns, contact the Fallston Group at 410.420.2001 or via email at info@fallstongroup.com.

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