The new year has not reversed Target's fortunes. Soon, it could earn the distinction of having the largest data breach ever for a U.S. retailer.
The nation's second largest discount retailer said Friday that the data breach it discovered last month also has compromised the names, addresses, phone numbers and emails of 70 million customers. That's on top of the 40 million credit and debit card accounts that were accessed in the breach, as originally disclosed by Target on Dec. 19.
That means a possible 110 million customers could have been affected by the Target breach, topping TJX Cos.' breach in 2007 that exposed about 90 million credit cards and debit cards. TJX owns retail stores Marshalls and TJ Maxx. However, Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder says there could be some overlap between those whose card information was stolen and those whose personal information was compromised.
The personal information of the 70 million customers had been information that Target obtained through "the normal course of business," not just during the Nov. 27 to Dec. 15 period when the credit card and debit card information was stolen, Snyder says. That means anyone who shopped at Target before the breach could have had their personal information compromised.
Last month, the retailer said that hackers picked up cardholders' names, card numbers, card expiration dates and card security codes and later added that they got access to encrypted personal identification numbers, or PINs, of debit cards.
Target will try to contact affected customers by email, if it has their email on file. The email will provide tips to guard against scams and won't ask for any personal information. The retailer also is offering a year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection service to all customers who shopped at any of its U.S. stores.
Target also says that customers will have zero liability for any fraudulent charges related to the breach.
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