Target shoppers are being asked to go over their credit and debit card statements after the company stated 40 million accounts may have been affected by a data breach.
News of the breach was announced this week just as the holiday shopping season shifted into high gear. Company officials stated that customers affecter were those who made purchases by swiping their cards at U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.
According to a report from the Associated Press, the stolen data includes customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the three-digit security codes located on the backs of cards. The data breach did not affect online purchases.
Company officials added that the breach affected all cards, including Target store brand cards and major card brands such as Visa and MasterCard.
The Minneapolis company said it immediately told authorities and financial institutions once it became aware of the breach and that it is teaming with a third-party forensics firm to investigate and prevent future breaches. It said it is putting all "appropriate resources" toward the issue.
Target didn't say exactly how the data breach occurred, but said it had since fixed the problem and that credit card holders can continue shopping at its stores. When asked whether there's a certain time when shoppers know their accounts will no longer be vulnerable, a Target spokeswoman said, "We encourage everyone to be vigilant."
Target Corp. advised customers to check their statements carefully. Those who see suspicious charges on the cards should report it to their credit card companies and call Target at 866-852-8680. Cases of identity theft can also be reported to law enforcement or the Federal Trade Commission.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.