Target Stores: What to do if you think your data was stolen

Published: Thursday, December 19, 2013 @ 10:48 AM
Updated: Thursday, December 19, 2013 @ 10:48 AM

            Target Stores: What to do if you think your data was stolen

Here are other steps you can take if you were affected by the Target data breach.

- Immediately contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Identity Theft Unit if you are a victim of identity theft or if there’s unauthorized use of your debit or credit cards. They can be reached at 800-282-0515.

- Contact the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) or law enforcement to report incidents of identity theft or to learn about steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft. To learn more, you can go to the FTC’s Web site, at, or call the FTC, at (877) IDTHEFT (438-4338) or write to Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Response Center, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.

- If you discover information on your credit report arising from a fraudulent transaction, you should request that the credit reporting agency delete that information from your credit report file. In addition, under federal law, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. You may obtain a free copy of your credit report by going to or by calling (877) 322-8228. You may contact the nationwide credit reporting agencies at:

Equifax (800) 525-6285 P.O. Box 740241 Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian (888) 397-3742 P.O. Box 9532 Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion (800) 680-7289 Fraud Victim Assistance Division P.O. Box 6790 Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

By the numbers:

Number of credit and debit cards affected by the Target data breach: 40 million

Time period of breach: Nov. 27 to Dec. 15

Number of Target stores: 1,797 U.S. stores and 124 in Canada

Who to call: Your credit card company and Target at 866-852-8680

Video: Consumer expert Clark Howard offers advice for people who may have been affected by the Target data breach. Watch the video at

By the numbers:

Number of credit and debit cards affected by the Target data breach: 40 million

Time period of breach: Nov. 27 to Dec. 15

Number of Target stores: 1,797 U.S. stores and 124 in Canada

Who to call: Your credit card company and Target at 866-852-8680

Video: Consumer expert Clark Howard offers advice for people who may have been affected by the Target data breach. Watch the video at

Target says about 40 million credit and debit card accounts may be affected by a data breach that occurred just as the holiday shopping season shifted into high gear.

The chain said customers who made purchases by swiping their cards at terminals in its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have had their accounts exposed. The stolen data includes customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the three-digit security codes located on the backs of cards.

The data breach did not affect online purchases, the company said.

The stolen information included Target store brand cards and major card brands such as Visa and MasterCard.

Thayer-Ann Matthews of Fairborn said she typically shops at Target two to four times a month and shopped at Target during the time of the data breach. Her purchases were made with both her Target card and her debit card. So far, her bank account seems to be where it should be, she said. But, she hasn’t had time to check her Target card account yet.

Matthews said she is worried but will continue to shop at the store.

“I am worried but Target is my favorite store and if people really want my info they will do whatever it takes to get what they need,” she said. “I hope it gets resolved without being hacked, but yes I will still shop there.”

The Minneapolis company said it immediately told authorities and financial institutions once it became aware of the breach and that it is teaming with a third-party forensics firm to investigate and prevent future breaches. The company said it is putting all “appropriate resources” toward the issue.

Tracy Fors, vice president of marketing and business development for Wright-Patt Credit Union, said the credit union has a monitoring service that’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “We have enhanced monitoring going on for our members,” she said. “Unfortunately, this is a common thing these days.”

The credit union has more than 260,000 members and Fors said the number one thing that people can do to protect themselves is to monitor account activity on a regular basis. “They really need to see what’s going on. If they see something that’s not right, they need to alert us. It’s a team effort.

“We take this very seriously on behalf of our members. It’s a big compromise. It’s a significant breach.”

Target Corp. advised customers to check their statements carefully. Those who see suspicious charges on the cards should report it to their credit card companies and call Target at 866-852-8680. Cases of identity theft can also be reported to law enforcement or the Federal Trade Commission.

“Security breaches are a cause for concern, but it’s important not to panic,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said. “Just because your information has been compromised does not necessarily mean you will become the victim of identity theft.”

Clark Howard, whose daily consumer advice show airs on AM 1290/95.7FM News Talk WHIO and who writes a weekly consumer advice column that runs weekly in this newspaper, has these suggestions for those who think they might be affected:

  • If you used a debit card, change the personal identification number (PIN) associated with that account.
  • Watch credit card and checking account statements and information closely for fraudulent charges and withdrawals made with the debit card information and dispute those charges.




Howard said credit card fraud is easier to dispute than debit card fraud. Debit card charges cause immediate withdrawals while phony credit card charges can be remedied without money leaving your hands.

“Your rights under federal law are pathetic when it comes to debit cards, and you have to fight with your own bank or credit union to get the money restored to your account,” he said.

Target hasn’t disclosed exactly how the data breach occurred, but said it has fixed the problem and credit card holders can continue shopping at its stores.

“The fact this breach can happen with all of their security in place is really alarming,” said Avivah Litan, a security analyst with Gartner Research.

Litan noted that companies like Target spend millions of dollars each year on credit card security measures. Given the company’s heavy security, Litan said she believes the theft may have been an inside job.

Target’s breach comes at the height of the holiday shopping season and threatens to scare away shoppers worried about the safety of their personal data. The November and December period accounts for 20 percent, on average, of total retail industry sales.

The incident is particularly troublesome for Target because it has used its branded credit and debit cards as a marketing tool to lure shoppers with a 5 percent discount.

The company said during its earnings call in November that as of October some 20 percent of store customers have the Target branded cards. This holiday season, Target added other incentives to use its cards.

As a result of these incentives, households that activate a Target-branded card have increased their spending at the store by about 50 percent on average, the company said.

Target is just the latest retailer to be hit with a data breach. TJX Cos., which runs stores such as T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s, had a breach that began in July 2005 that exposed at least 45.7 million credit and debit cards to possible fraud. The breach wasn’t detected until December 2006. In June 2009 TJX agreed to pay $9.75 million in a settlement with multiple states related to the massive data theft but stressed at the time that it firmly believed it did not violate any consumer protection or data security laws.

An even larger hack hit Sony in 2011. It had to rebuild trust among PlayStation Network gamers after hackers compromised personal information including credit card data on more than 100 million user accounts.

Litan said she doubts the breach will have much of an effect on Target’s sales, noting that TJX launched sales promotions immediately following the news of its breach. The promotions increased sales.

“People care more about discounts than security,” Litan said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Tax season scams target seniors online

Published: Friday, January 27, 2017 @ 12:00 AM

            Tax season scams target seniors online

Tax season is upon us, which means it’s also tax scam time. As more and more seniors plug into technology, they’re falling victim to scammers who target older adults. A local expert explains how to recognize scams and keep yourself and your loved ones safe during tax time.

Why seniors?

Anyone can fall victim to a scam, and indeed, people in all age groups do. However, according to the National Council on Aging, those 65 and over are at the most risk for becoming victims of financial scams.

Why? “Seniors are easy targets for a number of reasons,” explained Marianne Bailey of Kettering. Bailey’s business, The Senior Tutor, empowers older adults to embrace technology, as well as stay safe from scammers. Generally speaking, the older generation’s mindset is, “if they feel like they have done something wrong, they want to correct this as soon as possible. When scammers are yelling at them, this confuses them, and they rush to do the right thing without thinking that someone might actually be scamming them.”

In addition, younger people more familiar with technology often know which red flags to watch for, whereas a senior may not.

Last, but certainly not least, “seniors also have the most expendable money in all the age groups,” Bailey said. Although a growing number of seniors are on fixed incomes, the National Council on Aging indicates that the perception of wealth is all that matters to scammers.

Commonly used scams

Scammers strike all year long, but tax season is a good time to be especially wary. According to the Ohio Attorney General’s office, more than 1,400 IRS scams were reported in the first two months of 2016 alone. Most were IRS phone and email scams or identity theft.

Bailey said, “The biggest IRS scam is a phone scam where a person will receive a phone call from an ‘IRS agent,’ who will be very demanding. They will tell the person that they owe past taxes and that these and past fees are due immediately. They often threaten to call the police have them arrested, deported or licenses revoked if these fees are not paid immediately, usually by prepaid debit card or a wire transfer.

“This urgency created by the scammer scares the person into thinking impending doom is upon them,” Bailey said.

However, as more seniors become savvy to the phone scams and also go online, the threat is changing. “Sometimes these threats come in from email and more recently, via social-media outlets,” Bailey saidd. “The scammers will usually spoof their caller ID, create fake badges and ID numbers in order to convince their targets they are indeed the IRS. They even have detailed information about them such as name, address and often relatives’ names.

“All this information can be obtained about people on various social media websites, such as Facebook. Scammers will also email official looking documents to people on IRS letterhead, making them believe the scam even more. This is called a phishing email.”

Red flags

If you receive a call, email or social media message from someone claiming to be the IRS, think before you panic. The IRS does not call or email taxpayers, and it definitely doesn’t Facebook them. “The IRS will not call you to ask for your information. They already know all your information,” Bailey said. “They will not call you and demand payment. They will snail-mail you a letter telling you what you owe, and give you a chance to question and refute their claim.”

Also be wary of language used by the person contacting you. “If a message is urgent, or sounds too good to be true, take great caution in this,” Bailey advised. “Anytime anyone contacts you demanding money, or threatening to call authorities, hang up. Do not give them any of your contact or banking information. The IRS or other financial institutions simply do not operate this way.”

Help for victims

Unfortunately, scammers are extremely experienced in financial crimes, and people do fall victim. What should you do if you or an older relative have been scammed? First of all, don’t be embarrassed. Both Bailey and the National Council on Aging suggested that financial crime is underreported for that reason.

If you or someone you know receives one of these messages, report it to both the U.S. Treasury and Federal Trade Commission, Bailey said. You should also choose a reputable accountant to prepare your taxes – often they will catch an instance of scamming if there’s something off with their client’s financial status. Your local law enforcement agency can direct you further as well.

Also, be sure to avoid giving out personal information – contact info, Social Security and banking info, and relatives’ names – online, and if you do e-file your taxes, use a reputable, well-known website with an encrypted server.



Marianne Bailey, The Senior Tutor



Community Action Partnership Dayton

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program

719 S. Main St., Dayton


The Job Center Montgomery County

1111 S. Edwin C. Moses Blvd., Dayton


The AARP Foundation (several locations in the Miami Valley, contact for one nearest you)

888-OUR-AARP (888-687-2277)

10,000 cases of Eggo waffles recalled

Published: Monday, September 19, 2016 @ 9:20 PM
Updated: Monday, September 19, 2016 @ 9:20 PM

Kellogg's is recalling about 10,000 cases of its Eggo Nutri-Grain Whole Wheat Waffles due to a possible listeria contamination, according to a notice on the Eggo website

The recalled waffles were sold in 25 states, including Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

>> Read more trending stories

Recalled products come in a 10 count box, have the UPC code 280040370 and a best if used by date of Nov. 21, 2017 or Nov. 22, 2017. 

"The recall is a result of routine tests that the company conducts which identified the potential for contamination," the notice said. "As soon as the company learned of a potential concern, it moved quickly to identify any foods that might be impacted and resolve the issue."

Listeria can cause severe illness, including fever, headaches, stiffness, nausea and abdominal pain. It is most dangerous for young children, the elderly and pregnant women. 

There have been no reports of illness to date.

Affected customers  are asked to discard the product and contact the company or a full refund by calling  1-800-962-1413, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Eastern Time or by going to for more contact information.

No other Eggo products are affected.

Consumer experts warn of hackers

Published: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 @ 3:05 PM
Updated: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 @ 3:05 PM

            Consumer experts warn of hackers

At least one billion dollars have been stolen worldwide by an international theft ring.

Today, we talked to local experts about how you can keep your money safe.

There are steps you can take right now to protect yourself, plus what the banks, credit unions, and credit card companies are doing to protect you.

How to save money on Disney

Published: Monday, February 23, 2015 @ 3:14 PM
Updated: Monday, February 23, 2015 @ 3:14 PM

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With the news that Disney has raised admission prices to all of its parks, I want to tell you the best ways I know to save money when you want to visit the Mouse!

Saving money on Disney is tough, but possible

Well, now it's official. The cost of a trip to the Magic Kingdom is going up to $105 a day for Magic Kingdom. The other Orlando parks that are less popular are $97 a day. (Disneyland is $99.)

Unfortunately, the cost is the cost with the price of Disney parks. There's not a lot you can do to save, unless you're military. What you've got to do is try to save on where you stay and where you eat.

I recommend that you buy The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World as a starting point. They'll tell you all kinds of money and time-saving tips that the parks don't want you to know. That's the key to getting the best value out of a trip.

For example, it's so important to know how to navigate the parks: What order to go to things, where to go first when you arrive, what time of day to arrive. Knowing that makes a trip so much more enjoyable.

For my money, I say make sure you take ponchos from the dollar store with you for afternoon and evening thundershowers instead of buying overpriced ones for $10 at the park. Sure, they won't have cute characters on them, but they'll help you keep more of those other kinds of "characters" in your wallet.

Two other websites you need to know about too: also features a lot of info on how to save on the experience. And if you want to stay on the property, try renting a timeshare. has resources for both owners and potential renters.

When should you plan your Disney trip?

Fall is the best time for Florida vacations each year. That's the time of year that Walt Disney World offers discounts to Florida residents that fill the parks with daytrippers. That creates some traffic, but not as much as you would have encountered over the summer.

The real time to book, though, is during the first two weeks of December. Almost nobody goes on vacation at that time.