Target data breach sparks concern for sharing personal information

January 09, 2014

January 9, 2014 – CALGARY, ALBERTA – Consumers are constantly cautioned against sharing personal information, but yet they are required to do so almost on a daily basis. In a world of passwords and security questions designed to protect our information, consumers are left wondering just how safe our personal data really is. On the heels of a massive data breach involving American branches of the retail giant Target, Better Business Bureau is warning Canadian consumers to exercise extreme caution when using credit or debit cards as their preferred form of currency, even when dealing with a credible and experienced business.

In America, credit and debit cards embed a consumer’s PIN on the stripe located on the back of the card that is swiped at each purchase. If an ATM or purchase terminal has had a card-skimming device installed by scammers, your PIN will be accessible and compromised. In Canada and the U.K., consumers have been issued cards with micro-chip technology to further ensure security when making a financial transaction. As seen on CIBC’s website, the chip provides layers of encrypted security which makes it difficult for fraudsters to gain access to your personal information. Chip cards also allow consumers to keep track of their cards at all times, as they do not have to hand their card over to cashiers to be swiped.

President and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, Sandra Crozier-McKee, says it’s crucial to not only do your research before giving out your information, but to handle your cards responsibly. “If you are suspicious about whom or what organization is requesting your information, check with BBB to ensure you are dealing with a trustworthy business,” she says. “Even though some businesses may still have the option for you to swipe your card, always insist on using the chip so you know you are making a secure transaction. Understand that even well-known and reputable businesses are not immune to data breaches, and carefully monitor your credit reports and bank statements so that you can act quickly if you discover your information has been compromised.”

BBB offers these data breach tips in case you are suspicious or know your information has been compromised:

  • Responsibility/liability– Consumers can become victims of data breaches through no fault of their own if their credit card is stolen and used without their consent or knowledge. Do your part by ensuring you use the chip technology on your cards to keep your information safe.
  • Check credit reports and account statements - Check your bank account, credit card statement and credit report regularly.  If you are worried that a security breach has made you a target of identity theft, don’t panic. Theft of a credit card number is unlikely to lead to the thief opening new accounts. In the case of Target’s data breach, the key piece of information needed for “new account” ID theft - your Social Security Number – was not part of the information that was compromised.
  •  Quick Action - You need to act fast to dispute the charges and to limit your liability for charges or withdrawals you did not authorize. Many companies that issue credit cards voluntarily provide “zero” liability protection after you report the loss or theft of your credit or having your card compromised in a breach. Write a follow-up letter to confirm that you reported the loss. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada states that MasterCard, Visa and American Express have zero-liability policies so if you find unauthorized charges you can usually be reimbursed. If you have questions about your card’s chip, contact your bank.
  • Monitor your accounts – It is important to routinely monitor your credit and banks statements. It is not necessary to pay for expensive monitoring or fraud detection services. You can check your credit report with Equifax or TransUnion or contact your bank or credit card provider.
  • Avoid fake emails – Do not respond to emails you may receive with offers to help you in an attack. Many of these emails may be fake. Do not click on any links or provide any personal information that may be requested. If you have concerns personally, contact your financial institution or credit card issuer to verify the email is from them.
  • Credit Freeze/Alerts – A credit freeze will prevent any lender from accessing your credit reports or scores as part of a credit application. If you are a victim of ID Theft or your accounts have been compromised and you have created an Identity Theft Report, you can place an extended credit alert on your credit report.

For more consumer tips visit


Media Contact:

Leah Brownridge
Marketing Communications Coordinator
Phone: (403) 531-8793

About BBB:

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at There are local,independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, which was founded in 1954 and garners more than one million instances of service annually. 

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