Target customers targeted by cyber thieves

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - If you used your credit or debit card at a Target store between November 27th and December 15th, you might want to check your credit card or bank account. According to Target, 40 million accounts may have been compromised. Criminals managed to steal numbers, or data, on magnetic strips used on cards.

Law enforcement authorities and financial institutions are scrambling to gauge the extent of the damage.

Jeff Theiler manages sophisticated security systems for Hancock Bank. While there are those intent on committing cyber fraud, financial institutions do what they can to protect accounts.

"Those on the legitimate side are doing what they can to defend against it. We're trying to protect, detect and respond to attacks," Theiler said.

If you are a victim, the crime will produce headaches for you and require you to take steps to set the record straight. But it's the credit card companies and banks who take the financial hit.

"The folks who actually lose the money is not the customer. They are inconvenienced, but it's the banks, merchant providers and businesses that take the loss," Theiler said.

Target has nearly 1,800 stores across America and, like other major retailers, the company is vulnerable to this kind of attack. There are steps you can take to prevent being a victim.

"Monitor your accounts closely. If you have not signed up for mobile or online banking or alerting services, you may want to think about doing that."

We also spoke to Pam Belk at Keesler Federal Credit Union who said members who used their cards at Target during the hacking time will get new cards. Right now, KFCU is working to determine who shopped at Target and will automatically send new cards. Belk said the old cards will still work until the new ones arrive, but members are advised to monitor their statements to spot potential unauthorized charges.

"We also have a text alert system for Kessler debit card holders. Once a member signs up, whenever there's a strange charge, they'll get a text alert about the charge. It's a great security feature," Belk said.

Target corporate headquarters issued a press release Thursday afternoon saying they have identified and resolved the issue, but they are still investigating the incident.

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