Just one week before the Christmas holiday the giant retail chain store Target announced that their computer data bases had been compromised and at least 40 million credit cards numbers with their accompanying personal information had been stolen. As a result of that incident and the subsequent announcement sales at Target, during the busiest time of year, fell between two to six percent.
Neiman Marcus experienced a similar breach, but refrained from stating the number of customers affected. It is thought that other large retail chains also had their security compromised, but they refrained from going public with the information in fear of the negative affect such a revelation will have on business.
Last week Target confessed that an additional 70 million credit cards were included in the theft. CEO of Target, Greg Steinhafel said that, “We are accountable and we are responsible.”
Original reports announcing the theft only included basic consumer information such as credit card number, name, address, and telephone number. However, Target confirmed more recently that the hackers were able to also retrieve debit PIN numbers. Having PIN numbers could set bank accounts at risk if the ID thieves can break the encryption code of the debit card PIN numbers.
Consumers should realize that they are not subject to any liability for fraudulent transactions, especially if they are reported in a timely fashion to the credit card companies of debit card issuer. However the theft and subsequent fraud certainly causes stress and inconvenience for consumers. It is important for consumers to do whatever they can to prevent ID theft. Some victims of ID theft have been known to experience the symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome.