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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Interra working to protect members left open to fraud after Target breach

Posted on Dec. 21, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Dec. 21, 2013 at 6:28 p.m.

ELKHART — News that Target suffered a security breach affecting data on credit and debit cards has led at least one local financial institution to take steps to assist customers that may have been put at risk.

Target acknowledged the breach on Thursday, saying data related to approximately 40 million debit and credit cards was stolen beginning the weekend of Thanksgiving. The number of impacted cards represents the second-largest scam in U.S. history, according to a story from the Associate Press.

A release Thursday noted information such as shoppers' names, card number, and the cards' expiration dates and verification value were involved. There is no indication that personal identification numbers were affected.

Shoppers that used cards at the stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 are said to have been vulnerable to the breach. A statement from Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel said that the store's website was not affected.

Target has yet to say how the breach occurred, saying only that the problem is fixed and that shoppers can once again visit their stores with confidence.

A message posted on the company's Facebook page reassured shoppers that they are not liable for any fraudulent purchases and that the company is providing free credit-monitoring services to every cardholder affected.

Though Target has reached out to customers, however, the AP story said some consumers have had trouble contacting the company through its website and call centers.

Locally, though, Interra Credit Union is working with customers affected by the breach.

The credit union is issuing new credit and debit cards to those affected and has sent emails and letters to customers about the issue, said Interra's Director of Marketing Karen Steffensen.

Steffensen said Interra was not aware of the breach until Target announced it, but that the credit union responded quickly.

Interra identified “a couple thousand” members that had used their cards at Target within the window and were left open to fraudulent charges. Those members were notified Friday that they could come to any of Interra's four offices to have a new card issued.

Steffensen said each of the offices remained open until 6 p.m. Friday with members continuing to be served until well after 7 p.m.

An important thing to note, she said, is that simply because accounts are vulnerable to fraudulent charges does not mean they were necessarily charged.

She still recommended anyone who used a card at Target within the noted time frame to monitor their accounts closely.

Steffensen said that anyone who notices a fraudulent charge to their account should call an 800 number on the back of most cards immediately and cancel the card.

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