Consumers Encouraged to Protect their Information against Identity Theft

December 19, 2013                                    

Boston – Following the reported data breach at Target that may have compromised the credit and debit card data of consumers across the nation, Senator Richard Ross (R-Wrentham) urges his constituents to take action to protect their own information.

“Identity theft is a serious issue that can have lasting effects on a consumer’s financial stability,” said Senator Ross. “In light of this serious breach, all consumers who believe they may have been impacted should take the necessary steps immediately. Additionally, I encourage all constituents to familiarize themselves with this information on how to prevent fraud and identity theft.”

Target reports that nearly 40 million consumers’ credit and debit card information may have been compromised between November 27th and December 15th. The information involved includes customer name, credit or debit card number, the card’s expiration date and the card’s CVV (three digit security code). Target states that the breach only affects purchases at their retail stores, and not online purchases. Target has established a toll-free customer help line: 866-852-8680.

Attorney General Martha Coakley is in contact with Target regarding the circumstances of the breach and the company’s plan to address it. AG Coakley’s office will work with Attorneys General throughout the nation to conclude whether the company has proper safeguards in effect to protect consumer information.

All consumers who shopped at Target’s retail stores between November 27th and December 15th are encouraged to take the following actions:

  • Review and monitor your credit card and other financial accounts for any unauthorized activity over the next 12 to 24 months. Report any irregularities you find to the      issuer of your credit card immediately.
  • Obtain a copy of your credit report and review it for unauthorized and unexplained activity. You are provided with one free credit report per year.
  • Call one of the three major credit bureaus to place a one-call fraud alert on your credit report. The credit bureau you contact is legally required to contact the other two credit bureaus. The one-call fraud alert will remain in your file for at least 90 days, and it requires creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or increasing the credit limits on any of your existing accounts. Additionally, all three credit bureaus must send you a credit report free of charge.
    • Equifax: Call (800) 525-6285, and write PO Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241.
    • Experian: Call (888) 397-3742, and write PO Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013.
    • TransUnion: Call (800) 680-7289, and write Fraud Victim Assistance Division, PO Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790.
  • If you find unexplained activity on your credit report, consider placing an extended fraud alert on your credit report. To do so, you must file a police report with your local police department, keep a copy for yourself, and provide a copy to one of the three major credit bureaus. The extended alert will remain on your file for a period of seven years, and will notify any user of your      credit report that all changes in your credit, including issuance of new cards and increases in credit limits are unauthorized, unless extra precautions are taken to ensure that the credit is being given to you, and not to an identity thief.
  • Notify the fraud departments of the credit card company or bank that you used when making your purchases at Target stores. They can monitor your account for suspicious activity and discuss with you the possibility of requesting a new account number.
  • If you determine that you are a victim of fraud or identity theft, view Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Guide on Identity Theft for Victims and Consumers at http://www.mass.gov/ago/docs/consumer/id-theft-guide.pdf for information on how to protect yourself. You may also contact AG Coakley’s consumer hotline at (617) 727-8400.

Please contact the office of Senator Ross with any questions or concerns at (617) 722-1555 or Richard.Ross@masenate.gov.

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