Target is offering customers one year of free credit monitoring in what some see as an attempt to save face after the retailer was hit with a massive hacking scheme that affected 40 million customers last month.
"To date, we are hearing very few reports of actual fraud, but are closely monitoring the situation. We want to reassure guests that they will not be held financially responsible for any credit card or debit card fraud," Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in a statement in late December. "And to provide guests with extra assurance, we will be offering free credit monitoring services."
The retailer then emailed customers recently with instructions on how to redeem their year of free credit monitoring through Experian's ProtectMyID service. Those interested must request an activation code by April 23, 2014, and redeem that code by April 30, according to the company's website.
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Between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, hackers ripped off data from an estimated 40 million credit and debit accounts from nearly every Target store in the country.
A Secret Service investigator claimed that the card data was stolen through malicious software that hackers installed on the terminal machines where customers swipe their credit or debit cards during checkout.
"The type of data stolen — also known as 'track data' — allows crooks to create counterfeit cards by encoding the information onto any card with a magnetic stripe," Krebs on Security, a popular security industry blog, reported
. "If the thieves also were able to intercept PIN data for debit transactions, they would theoretically be able to reproduce stolen debit cards and use them to withdraw cash from ATMs."
While the Target incident ranks high among all-time security breaches, the biggest retailer credit and debit card security breach was made public in 2007 when TJX Cos, which owns TJ Maxx and Marshalls, claimed hackers stole data from 45.7 million customer cards. Court documents later revealed that the suspects could have obtained more than 94 million account numbers.
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