So, unless you are outside of the U.S., I am sure that you have heard of the Target Data Breach by now. In case you haven’t, between November 24th and December 15th as many as 70 million Target store shoppers had their credit, debit and personal information stolen by a ring of thieves using software uploaded to the merchant’s server. If you are like me, have shopped at Target or one of its affiliates and haven’t changed your credit or debit cards, you are probably using one or more of these excuses:
- Target has taken care of the problem by now.
- It’s probably not affecting that many people and it probably won’t affect me.
- They won’t steal my information because I have terrible credit, or so little money, or …(insert rationalization here).
- I’ll know if they use my card before any real damage is done.
I used all of these excuses for not changing my VISA debit card, even though I used my card at Target during that timeframe. I really believed these excuse, too. Maybe you happen to be psychic, but unfortunately I am not, and three days ago it happened. While I was asleep in my bed in Chicago, thieves used fraudulent cards bearing my bank information at a string of stores in Texas. Before I could swipe my legitimate card to pay for my morning latte, all of my hard earned money was gone. They even managed to leave me with a negative balance of a hundred bucks, which is saying something, because I don’t even have the ability to overdraft that account.
These thieves really know what they are doing and what they are doing is causing a whole lot of heartache and pain. I have had to spend two days, emailing, calling and writing letters to try to clear up what they were able to pull off in just a couple of hours. I am hoping to get my money back, but who knows how long that will take.
For those of you who are financially uber savvy, I know you will be tempted to comment on how stupid I was to not cancel my cards, believe me, you are preaching to the choir. But honestly this post is not for the financially uber savvy, this post is for people like me and you know who you are. I know that you are hyper vigilant about your personal and financial information when you are traveling, it’s time to be vigilant now. Yes, it is possible that they don’t have or won’t use your information. Yes, changing your autopay information on all your accounts is a pain. But that’s what the thieves are counting on, the fact that you won’t cancel your cards for whatever reason. And they are laughing all the way to the bank, or to the border, or wherever they are. Take my word for it.
The is scope of the situation is still developing. You can read more about it below: