More North Carolinians may be harmed by Target breachAttorney General Cooper investigating massive data breach
Raleigh — Personal information about even more North Carolinians may have been compromised as part of a massive data breach from national retailer Target, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Friday.
Target first announced the security breach last month, estimating that information about 40 million credit and debit card accounts nationally had been stolen during the peak of holiday shopping, including 1.2 million accounts used by consumers in North Carolina. Target today said that personal information about as many as 70 million consumers may have been stolen nationally.
“Putting millions of people’s personal information at risk is unacceptable,” Cooper said. “Companies must do a better job of protecting their customers if they want to earn their business and their trust.”
Cooper and several other state attorneys general are investigating the breach, and his Consumer Protection Division is working to get more information about how many North Carolinians may be affected.
According to information provided to Cooper’s office, Target now believes that the breach compromised 70 million consumers’ phone numbers, email addresses and home addresses. Target had previously reported that 40 million consumers’ credit and debit card numbers as well as card expiration dates, PINs and magnetic strip information were stolen.
The fact that contact information was among the data compromised means consumers may become targets for telemarketing fraud, phishing and other types of scams.
“When your information is compromised, it puts you at greater risk of identity theft and other types of fraud,” Cooper cautioned. “This is a wake up call to take action to protect yourself now.”
Target has said that it plans to offer a year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to anyone who shopped in Target stores in the United States. Cooper recommends that consumers take the following steps as well:
- · Check your credit and debit card accounts and report suspicious charges to your bank or credit card company immediately. Also, request a new card with a different number and change any PINs or passwords for the affected account.
- · Check your credit reports. Once criminals have your personal information, they may use it to open new accounts in your name. Everyone is allowed a free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus. Breach victims can also request a fraud alert from one of credit bureaus, and should consider asecurity freeze for maximum protection.
- · Be on guard for calls, emails, texts or social media posts seeking your personal information or money. Scammers may pretend to be with your bank, utility, legitimate companies or government agencies, and if they already have some of your personal information they can seem more convincing. Do not fall for it.
A data or security breach happens when records containing personal information, such as Social Security numbers or credit card or bank account numbers, are lost, stolen or accessed improperly.
State law requires businesses as well as state and local government agencies to notify consumers if their personal information has been breached. They are also required to report security breaches to the Attorney General’s Office. More than 1,900 breaches that involved information about more than 5.8 million North Carolina consumers have been reported to our office since 2005.