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Medina shopper hit in Target hacker scam

by Jane Flasch

"It's the most wonderful time of the year for crooks," said Doug Rich. 

Rich lives in Medina and works in the Southern Tier. On Saturday he went to the Target in Elmira to Christmas shop. Two days later someone tried to use his account to make a purchase in Brooklyn.

"It turned out to be a transaction for $430 dollars," said Rich.

Target says 40 million accounts may have been hacked over a 20 day period.  The issue involved shoppers in stores, not on line, and has since been corrected.  The company is calling on customers to check their accounts.

The State Attorney General is calling on target to pay for credit monitoring services for anyone who shopped in the 50 Targets in New York State. 

"We're asking them to provide one year of free credit monitoring service," said Eric Schneiderman.

News of the security breach hadn't even been made public when Doug Rich got a call from his bank regarding his debit card account.  He called back immediately and now is glad he did. 

"They didn't approve the transaction.  No money was taken out of my account," he said.

Shoppers who used debit or credit cards including Target brand and major bank brands and shopped between November 27 and December 15 may be at risk. 

"We have moved swiftly to address this issue so guests can shop with confidence," said Gregg Steinhafel, CEO. "We have not been notified of any cards of our members that have been compromised at this point," said Mary Alice Liotta of ESL Federal Credit Union. 

Liotta says banks are vigilant about fraud detection.

"If it is an unauthorized transaction the consumer will get their money back.  They are protected," said Liotta.  That covers both debit and credit accounts.

It is unclear whether thieves got enough information to not only gain access to accounts but to also steal shoppers identity and gain access to new credit.  Target says only customer's names, credit card numbers, and the security code on the back of the card were hacked, not social security numbers.

However the attorney general says anyone who shopped there should immediately take the following steps:  Call a credit reporting company and gain access to a credit report, ask for a fraud alert, and go on line with your bank to check the transactions in your account.

"A fraud alert is going to mean that you can still use your credit card but that any action to open new credit cards will be denied," says Schneiderman. 

It may take months for thieves to try to access your account.  Security expert say you should continue to monitor your monthly transactions.

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Washington Times