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Massive Target data breach may affect you

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

If you've done any holiday shopping at Target between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, you need to be on high alert as your credit and debit card information may have been stolen.

Target said Thursday a security breach has compromised more than 40 million customer accounts nationwide. This is one of the biggest security breaches this country has ever seen.  

Target hasn't said how the breach happened, but says the problem has been fixed and they're working with forensics investigators to increase security. In the meantime experts say you need to keep a close eye on all your accounts for any suspicious activity and contact your bank right away if you notice anything wrong.

MORE: Statement from Target stores
MORE: Target security breach affects up to 40M cards

"This is certainly one of the biggest, bad time of year, but it happens all the time," said Dondi Black, Senior Vice President Retail Product Strategy for First Tennessee Bank. "This is a busy time of year for them, they're using their cards a lot. This is when we typically see a lot of transaction activity peak."

It could affect everyone from customers and their banks."

"Our losses will really be more in the expense of servicing our customers and additional expenses of reissuing cards," Black said.

The expense of reissuing cards to credit companies and to businesses at Target.

"Losses are going to be spread across card issuers all across the country," said Randy Hutchinson, President of the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South. "The bigger ones will take more of a loss."

"There will be financial consequences as well as the consumer will need to be on the lookout and watch and monitor their credit report," added Andy Wilson, financial fraud investigator. "They'll need to take action to protect themselves."

Financial experts say the first thing you should do is check your statements.

"We're watching your account," Black said. "We'd like for you to do the same. If they're identifying anything that looks like it shouldn't be there, we're advising them to go ahead and contact us immediately so we can help them take care of that."

Even if you don't see anything suspicious, being proactive could help protect you in the future.

"If you want to take preventative steps, change your debit card pin and have a new credit card issued," Wilson said.

Though customers may be taking steps to protect themselves now, the financial impact of one of the biggest security breaches in recent history still remains to be seen.
 
"It won't be known for weeks and weeks and months, maybe even years," Wilson said. "Somebody is going to take the hit for the financial losses of that and whether it's the bank or that particular company that sold the merchandise, we have to see."

Banks also recommend keeping your contact information up to date so your credit card company or bank can contact you as soon as possible if they see something wrong. You can also check your credit report and contact the Federal Trade Commission or local law enforcement if you find you're a victim of identity theft.

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