Guest Author - Sue Walsh
Several banks have filed suit against Target in response to the massive data breach that hit the popular retailer late last year. The suit, filed by First Choice Federal Credit Union, Trustmark National Bank and Green Bank NA against the company and its security firm, alleges Target knew there was a malware problem but ignored the warnings and refused to do anything. As many as 110 million credit card and debit card numbers were stolen, and between reimbursing fraudulent transactions and having to cancel and issue new cards to affected customers, the breach is said to have cost banks and other retailers an estimated $18 billion. The banks are suing for $5 million each but are hoping to turn their cases into class action suits, which could net them even more in damages.
Target hasnít responded to the suits nor has it had much to say about the breach itself except to say itís still ďunder investigationĒ. A damning report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation said the company had weak security and refused to respond to automated warnings sent out by its security software. It also said Target did not properly protect any of its customer data. Itís safe to say they have lost customer trust and will likely be hit with steep fines for their negligence.
Data breaches are becoming more and more prevalent. In the months since the Target breach, Sally Beauty Supply, Michaelís Arts and Crafts, the California DMV, and Neiman Marcus have also been hit. Even if youíve been unaffected so far, donít get too comfortable. Data breaches are going to continue and perhaps even increase even more. How can you protect yourself? Here are a few things to keep in mind.
First and foremost, keep a close eye on all your accounts. Should the worst happen, the sooner you catch it, the less damage will be done. Most banks will only hold you responsible for $50 at most, and more and more are changing to $0 liability.
ATMs are convenient, but use caution. Avoid the generic ones often found in convenience stores and gas stations, and any located in out of the way, poorly lit/maintained areas. If you feel someone is standing too close when using your card, donít be afraid to speak up. Many times card numbers are stolen simply by reading them over the ownerís shoulder.
If you think you might be affected by a data breach, call your bank or CC provider immediately and ask for a new card. Itís always better to be safe than sorry!