Attorney General Morrisey Offers Advice To Consumers If Their Credit Card Security Has Been Breached
CHARLESTON — In light of today’s news that as many as 40 million Target credit and debit card accounts may have been breached, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey offered advice to West Virginia consumers who may be impacted.
“Credit card and identity theft is a very serious matter that impacts our citizens who will not learn about the crime until it’s too late,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Today’s announcement is surprising and very unsettling for many West Virginians who may have done holiday shopping at Target. Our Office will do everything we can to assist consumers who may have been affected.”
Morrisey said consumers who believe their account has been breached can take steps to protect themselves. First, all customers should review all statements and purchases on the card. If the card is a debit card that is linked to a bank account, check those statements and transactions as well. Consumers should immediately report any unauthorized purchases or withdrawals immediately to local law enforcement and their financial institution, and then contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office. Consumers also should report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission.
Morrisey said consumers affected by the security breach also should take the following steps to protect themselves:
Place a fraud alert on your credit report. This free alert lasts for 90 days and makes it harder for someone to open a line of credit in your name. To place the alert, call one of the three major credit reporting agencies:
If that isn’t enough, place a security freeze on your credit report, by sending a letter requesting the freeze to the three credit agencies by using certified mail, return receipt requested. This freeze puts a lock on your credit so third parties cannot access any information about you. The freeze costs $5 plus postal fees for each credit agency and lasts until you lift them. If you lift the freeze for a credit check, to open a new credit card, take out a loan or to make a large purchase such as a home or car, then want to put your accounts back under the freeze you must pay the fees again.
Make sure you check your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com. Consumers are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.
“When checking your credit report, it is important to understand that you can get a report from all three agencies at once or you can stagger them so you get a report from a different agency every few months,” Morrisey said. “If you find inaccuracies or evidence of identity theft, such as credit cards you don’t know about or accounts that are unauthorized, immediately call law enforcement and our Consumer Protection Division toll free at 800-368-8808.”
Target said information involved in the incident includes customers’ names, credit or debit card number, the card’s expiration date and CVV (the three-digit security code). Security experts say that type of date would enable thieves to create counterfeit cards by encoding the information onto any card that has a magnetic stripe. If the thieves intercepted PIN data during debit transactions, they may be able to recreate debit cards and withdraw cash at ATMs.
If you believe you have been a victim of identity theft or your credit cards have been breached, call local law enforcement, as well as the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 and the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-4338 or go online to www.ftc.gov/idtheft.