Pittsburgh, PA - January 24, 2014 -With millions of Americans potentially being affected by the December 2013 data breach at Target stores nationwide, scammers are taking advantage of the plethora of victims looking for ways to protect their financial accounts and identities.
Target has been proactive in regularly updating data breach information on its website, but because so much dialogue has been released between news stories, social media postings, emails, financial institutions and more, the steps consumers should take to protect themselves can be overwhelming. Scammers have tried and continue to try to capitalize on the financial instability and information overload to trick consumers by pretending to be Target with fake websites or by phone or email.
The retailer has sent out emails to its shoppers to notify them of how to sign up for free credit reporting monitoring and has also advised shoppers it’s possible to be contacted by a con artist using the Target name to try to obtain more of your personal information.
So how do you spot a Target-related scam?
If you received an email from Target, the company has posted copies of all email communication related to the breach on its information page. You can compare emails to see if the content matches up, especially in regard to the sender’s address.
Spelling and grammatical errors will indicate the correspondence is likely not from Target Corporation.
Emails sent from Target’s headquarters will not directly ask for payment, personal information or money. If you’re interested in signing up for free credit monitoring, you’ll be asked to go to a secure Target webpage and supply your name and email. You’ll receive another email with an activation code to be used on Experian’s website. From there you will have to provide personal information, but not financial information, to access your credit report.
There should be no attachments in a valid Target email, but there may be links. Scammers include attachments in emails in an attempt to get consumers to open malware and other viruses onto their computer.
If you’re suspicious of the email, don’t click on any links. Type the address of Target’s data breach website (target.com/databreach) into your browser or if you want to sign up for free credit monitoring, type creditmonitoring.target.com into your browser and follow the links from the known website.
Consumers will not have to reply to a legitimate Target email.
Target is not corresponding with shoppers via phone calls or texts. Do not provide personal or financial information over the phone. If your credit card company or financial institution does contact you via phone, go to the location personally or call the known number you have for the company.
Scammers will use high-pressure tactics and urgent situations to try to convince you to send money or disclose sensitive information before you have time to realize it’s a scam. When callers use threats and advise you to wire funds or use a prepaid money card, it is most likely a scam.
Target is working with authorities to shut down scams and fraudulent websites using the retailer’s name, but con artists continue to develop new ways to defraud consumers.
Shoppers should keep a close watch on account statements and contact the account provider as soon as possible if unauthorized charges are discovered.
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