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Attorney General’s Office offers consumer protection tips following payment card sata breach at Target stores

HELENA — After an announcement by Target that approximately 40 million customers using payment cards at its United States stores between November 27 - December 15 were affected by a data breach, Attorney General Tim Fox cautions Montana consumers to watch for fraudulent charges on their credit and debit card statements, as well as for scams purporting to help consumers.

“We encourage Montanans who used any form of payment card at Target stores within the identified timeframe to carefully examine their statements for unauthorized charges,” said Attorney General Tim Fox. While Target has not yet announced which, if any, of our seven Target stores were affected by the data breach, we do know that affected consumers will have no liability for charges they didn’t make.”

During a conference call today between Target’s legal counsel and Attorneys General Offices across the country, states were alerted to fraudulent websites that have popped up, as well as emails being sent to consumers phishing for personal information, such as social security numbers. “This serves as a good reminder to never give out your social security number or date of birth in response to an email asking you to confirm account information,” Attorney General Fox added. “Instead, contact the customer service number listed on the company’s billings statement to help keep your personal information safe.”

Target also announced that it will make free credit report monitoring available to guests whose data was accessed. For more information, call Target’s toll-free hotline: 1-866-852-8680. Additionally, people with questions can also visit the company’s official website at www.target.com. Updates and information are also being sent through the company’s social media accounts like Facebook.

The Montana Office of Consumer Protection offers these identity protection tips:
   • Never give bank or credit card information over the phone unless you initiated the call and know the business to be reputable.
   • Never respond to e-mail or pop-up messages asking you to confirm or verify account information, even if it looks official. Instead, call the customer service number listed on the company’s billing statement to check an account.
   • Remove extra information from your checks. Information like your Social Security number and date of birth should be guarded.
   • Shred or destroy any documents that contain personal identifying information before you dispose of them. Always shred prescriptions, receipts, bank deposit slips, pay stubs, expired credit cards, insurance policies and credit card applications.
   • Review your bank and credit card statements as soon as you get them.
   • Order a copy of your credit report once a year and check it carefully for fraudulent accounts. You are entitled to a free copy once every 12 months.
   • Read and understand privacy and security policies before providing any personal information on Internet sites. Shop online only if the site is secure.
   • Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts and avoid using easily available information such as your mother’s maiden name.
   • Secure personal information in your home.
   • Freeze your credit files with the three major credit bureaus so no one can access them without your permission.

For more information about identity theft, such as how to put a fraud alert on your file with the three major credit reporting agencies, email the Office of Consumer Protection at the Montana Department of Justice at contactocp@mt.gov, call 1-800-481-6896 or 406-444-4500, or visit https://doj.mt.gov/consumer/for-consumers/identity-theft/. The OCP website also offers consumers who are confirmed identity theft victims information on how to get started with OCP’s ID Theft Passport program, which puts a security freeze on their file with the credit reporting agencies.

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