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Data breach of Target stores exposes 40 million customer accounts

Target Corporation reported a data breach that affected approximately 40 million customer accountsTarget Corporation announced on Thursday that a massive data breach resulted in the exposure of approximately 40 million customer accounts.

Cyber Security blogger Brian Krebs reported that the Secret Service has been investigating the theft of credit and debit card data from Target. Krebs is a national computer security expert and former Washington Post reporter.

Although the Secret Service has confirmed it is investigating, they have not made any further comments.

The breach involved the "skimming" of credit card numbers, but may have also resulted in the theft of debit card PINs. This security breach did not affect any cards that were used to shop at Target's online site.

The breach began on Black Friday and continued through Sunday, Dec. 15. Anyone who shopped at Target between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 is encouraged to review their account.

The data was taken with software that had been installed on the credit card machines customers use to swipe their cards at the checkout counter. According to Target, the information that was acquired included customer names, credit or debit card numbers, the card's expiration date, and the CVV numbers. Target is reporting that the breach of credit card data has been resolved.

This security breach could involved any of Target's 1,800 stores in the country — 12 of which are in and around Portland.

Although affected shoppers are not liable for fraudulent charges, they should continue to monitor credit and bank statements. Customers should go online to verify account information and not wait for paper statements. Target is in the process of notifying banks and credit providers. If customers find any unauthorized charges, they should place a credit freeze on any compromised accounts by contacting the appropriate financial institution. REDcard holders should contact Target directly.

Another likely outcome is that scammers will use this public data breach to phish for personal information. During the next few weeks, customers should be suspicious of unsolicited emails or phone calls from purported financial institutions. Do not click on links, download attachments or provide information — like Social Security numbers — to contractors.