Target today confirmed that it's investigating the theft of credit and debit card numbers from millions of customers who shopped at its stores over the past three weeks in what may be one of the largest data breaches ever.
The company says that card numbers, expiration dates and CVV codes -- the three- or four-digit numbers printed on the card to provide extra security -- may have been taken from as many as 40 million people who shopped at U.S. Target stores between November 27 and December 15. People who shopped online or at Canadian Target stores were not affected.
The company hasn't released details, but the United States Secret Service confirmed to USA TODAY that it's investigating the Target data breach. All types of cards were affected, including Target's own REDCard credit cards. The company has posted additional information for customers and says it's confident that data is no longer being stolen.
Security journalist Brian Krebs has confirmed that stolen credit and debit card account numbers are appearing on black-market websites in batches of 1 million cards and selling from $20 to more than $100 per card.
If you shopped at Target with a credit or debit card over the past three weeks, there are several things you can do to watch for fraud:
• Monitor your transactions: Keep an eye on the activity on your credit and debit cards, looking out for any charges that don't seem to be yours. Rather than wait for a monthly statement in the mail, you can monitor transactions every day using the card issuer's website or a transaction-monitoring tool like LifeLock Wallet™.
• Report suspicious transactions immediately: If you see something that doesn't look right, contact the card issuer immediately. The phone number is on the back of your card.
• Watch your credit reports: You can get a free credit report from each of the three major U.S. credit bureaus each year, and you can pay for more frequent access. Get more information from the Federal Trade Commission.
• Act fast: If you believe you're the victim of identity theft, there are several immediate steps you should take. If you're a LifeLock member and think you've been a victim, call our Member Services team for assistance at 1-800-LifeLock.
• Follow the story: Target and the Secret Service are still investigating this data breach. We'll share more information when it becomes available.