Scam Bam, No Thank You Ma’am: How to Avoid Being Scammed after the Target Security Breach


We support reforms to the financial marketplace that protect consumers from unscrupulous banks and lenders.

By Consumers Union on Monday, January 13th, 2014

!Facebook-golden-cardby guest blogger Caitlin Watkins

In the wake of the Target security breach, there are a number of scams that are popping up. These scams try to gather consumer’s personal and credit information. This is adding to insult to injury, as we also just found out that the initial 40 million Target customers affected by the breach has almost tripled to approximately 110 million customers. In other words, roughly a third of the American population is in danger of being scammed or falling victim to identity theft as a result of the Target breach. Here’s some information so you can avoid becoming a victim.

Avoiding Scams

The Target-related scams that are being reported take shape when scammers contact people through text messages, emails, or phone calls to “verify” their account information, claiming that they are trying to protect customers against the security breach. Some even state that they are Target employees! Scammers often ask for confidential information like your social security number or account numbers, so make sure to be very cautious and avoid identity theft by following these tips:

  • Check out Target corporate’s website. They have a very thorough website that addresses the data breach, and includes FAQs and has tips for consumers. The site is updated frequently, so check in often.
  •  If you receive a phone call, text message or email, do not reply. Go to the Target corporate website or call Target Customer Service directly to verify the message came from Target before you take any action.
  • Be leery of emails and phone calls offering you identity theft or fraud protection. These may be “phishing” scams – fake emails meant to scoop your info disguised as offers of help. For more about how to avoid phishing scams, click here.

If You Are Worried about Your Personal Information

See our blog post, Off Target: What to Do if Your Information is in Peril. It reminds consumers to monitor accounts now and in the future to make sure that there are no fraudulent charges. Or you can do what the expert interviewed by our colleague Jeff Blyskal over at Consumer Reports advised: replace your cards. Read more of Jeff’s piece here.

We’re Fighting to Be Sure this Doesn’t Happen Again

Consumers Union Senior Policy Counsel Pamela Banks wrote a letter to the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Richard Cordray, explaining the need for an investigation into the Target Security Breach in order to minimize its impact on consumers.

Have you been affected by the recent Target security breach? Tell us about it in the comments.


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