The nearly 110 million consumers affected by Target’s recent security breach again have more to worry about than previously thought. After an official email was sent to compromised customers offering one year of free credit monitoring, courtesy of the major retailer itself, scammers have also begun unleashing similar emails in order attempt to inflict further damage upon Target’s customer database.
Thus far, Target has successfully identified and stopped at least 12 different scams preying on consumers via email, social media and various other outlets.
The data breach that left Target customers’ personal information compromised during the holiday season is still under investigation. However, it is known that cyber thieves were able to gain access to Target consumer information such as names, credit/debit card details, phone numbers and email addresses.
If an email from Target has recently appeared in your inbox, here are some instructions on what to do:
* If you have already opened the email: A copy of the appropriate email Target sent out has been uploaded here. Ensure that all details of the email you opened and Target’s official email match, including the address it came from and the link within the email.
According to Credit.com Chairman Adam Levin, a specialist in privacy and identity theft, if the email you received does not match Target’s, defensive action should be taken immediately.
First, get a copy of your credit report and carefully observe activity on your bank and credit card on a daily basis. Also, be sure to call credit reporting agencies to make them aware of what happened.
A credit freeze can also be requested to prevent any credit from being extended under your name, although it can be difficult to unfreeze your credit once frozen.
If credit or debit card information was sent in as well, contact the institutions involved to properly warn them of potential fraudulent activity.
* If you haven’t opened the email: Do not open it. Levin recommends going directly to Target’s website to view the official letter you believe could have arrived in your inbox. Some malware could be installed on your computer by even opening a fraudulent email, but if you do open the email, do not click on any links.
Visit Target’s new website, creditmonitoring.target.com, to enroll in the free credit monitoring service Target is now offering. Correspondence from Target regarding the data breach can be found here on the retailer’s website.
An email from Target will never ask for personal information including a Social Security number or credit card information.
If your personal information was compromised during the recent data breach, scammers could have ability to contact you pretending to be anyone from the IRS to another major retailer.
“These people are now in harm’s way — you have to look really carefully at any email you click on from now on,” said Levin. “If there was ever a moment for people to think, ‘It could happen to me’ … this is that moment.”