What the Target Hack Means for Consumers

You will be hard-pressed to find an American that is not concerned about the news that Target’s customer payment systems were hacked and thousands of consumers’ credit cards and financial information were compromised. While everyone seems to know about the hack, not many people truly understand what caused it. We have the details for you. Read on for a look at what caused the Target hack and how consumers can protect themselves.

The Origins of the Hack

The credit and debit card breach that occurred in Target, Neiman Marcus and other retailers affected over 70 million consumers and analysts believe even more may have been affected. It was discovered that the person responsible for the breach was a 17-year old hacker who lives in St. Petersburg, Russia. The culprit planted BlackPOS malware to retailer hardware and when each consumer swiped their credit or debit card, their information was stolen.

 A Call to Action: Stepping Away from Swipe Technology

If this horrible incident has taught us anything, it is that swipe technology is no longer safe. We use our credit cards for so many transactions, it is so easy to swipe, grab your purchases and forget about it. The Target hack made consumers much more conscious of how and where you use your debit and credit cards. Many news outlets are calling for stores to step away from the swipe technology and finding another more safe way to pay at the register. Many consumers have already resorted back to cash. Others are just being more careful with how they use their cards.

No Warning Signs

Consumers are generally careful with the credit card and financial information. In this case there were no warning signs, no precursors of danger to watch out for. Millions of consumers were blindsided by this rogue hacker and if a 17-year old could cause this much damage, what could some of the larger groups of the underworld accomplish? The thought is scary indeed. Until a resolution is achieved, you may either want to pay in cash at the register or make your purchases online where your firewall will keep you protected.

The Bottom Line

Credit card and financial safety has just gotten much more complex. Make sure that you are keeping a close watch on your credit card statements, and if you see anything suspicious, do not hesitate to call and report it to your credit card company.

Oscar Fordham is a retired accountant who has found a second career as a blogger. He advises readers on everything from credit and debt to taxes and investing in money mutual funds and real estate.

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