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Target Data Breach May Affect 40M Accounts, Secret Service Investigating

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MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. -

A warning for holiday shoppers this morning: The Secret Service says it's investigating a credit and debit card data breach at Target stores across the country.

The alleged security breach began on Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year right after Thanksgiving, and ran up until Dec. 15.

According to KrebsOnSecurity.com thieves may have stolen information from the magnetic strips on the back of credit and debit cards.

Target was not initially commenting on the investigation, but on Thursday morning the company said up to 40 million accounts may be affected.

With almost 1,800 Target stores across the country, some 40,000 credit card devices at registers are at risk.

Experts say the stolen data can be used to create counterfeit credit cards. If pin numbers were intercepted, they could also create bank cards and withdraw cash from ATMs.

Now, some consumers are thinking twice when asked cash or credit.

Officials say the breach has only taken place inside the actual stores, and it does not appear to involve online purchases.

"Based on the information we're hearing here, it sounds like the actual payment software was hacked with a piece of malware or some other kind of security breach in the credit card processing itself, that's not very common," University Of Minnesota Professor William McGeveran told Fox News.

CNET.com's Seth Rosenblatt said, "This is one of those situations where in the past it's been done by hacking into a store's wifi and then using that to get into the corporate database." 

An American Express spokeswoman says the company is aware of the incident and is putting fraud controls in place. There was no word from Visa or Mastercard.

Customers with concerning questions can call Target at 1-866-852-8680.

 

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