Target breach: are you at risk?

Target announced 70 million customers affected

If you ignored the warnings about identity theft at Target stores the first time, don't take that chance again.

That's because the company has announced that the number of potential fraud victims has jumped from 40 million to at least 70 million, and it's not just credit card numbers and pin numbers at risk.

Now the potential ID thefts include customer names, home and email addresses, and phone numbers.  

"Target really has egg on their face," said Paula Albertson, a financial planner based in Plant City. "They're going to lose a lot of credibility and we're going to be shopping at a lot of other places."

Albertson said Target should immediately implement a new system to protect customers, such as eliminating the card swipe machines. Albertson said Europe uses an electronic chip system that's reduced credit card fraud by 80 percent.

"They need to be more proactive. They need to step in front and say, 'We're going to lead the way,'" Albertson said.

Here's what you should do if you shopped at Target during the last several months.

  • -  Immediately call your bank or credit card and debit card issuers and get replacement cards with new numbers and new pin numbers.
  • -  Monitor your bank activity and credit card statements dating back several months, not just through November when the scandal first broke.
  • -  Consider using more cash to avoid potential ID theft. And if you use cards, try and avoid using debit cards, because you don't have the same protections against fraud as credit cards.

Shoppers like Matthew Seaman said the scandal has made him more aware of the risks of using credit cards at retail stores, and he has made using cash part of his routine.

"Before I go shopping I usually take out 40 or 50 bucks and then if I know I'm going to go shopping it makes me rethink using a debit or credit card now," Seaman said.

Debbie Clark of Tampa said she wasn't overly concerned about the latest numbers of potential fraud victims, because she regularly monitors her accounts online.

"It may have crossed my mind but I would think it was just sort of a fluke thing," Clark said.

Target said it will contact customers if the company suspects they have been victims of fraud.

Target said it's offering free credit monitoring for its customers, but you have to sign up for the program.

Read more about Target's breach: http://wfts.tv/1amyByy

Target has set up a web page to sign up for free credit monitoring.  Visit https://creditmonitoring.target.com/ to sign up.

Visit http://target.com/databreach to find out more.

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