It has been over a week since Target was hit by a severe security breach which, according to the retailer’s estimate, ended up in compromising over 40 million credit and debit card numbers. This is actually the second largest breach ever reported by a U.S. retailer, according to Target the breach lasted 19 days, starting before Thanksgiving. A senior payments executive “familiar with the situation” told Reuters that encrypted bank PINs were also compromised, but Target says that no PINs were accessed.
According to the executive, a major U.S. bank fears that consumer bank accounts might be at risk of fraudulent withdrawals if thieves are able to crack the encryption code. Target hasn’t revealed exactly how the security breach went down, only describing it as “sophisticated.” It is now being investigated by the Justice Department and the U.S. Secret Service. The retailer is adamant that PINs weren’t accessed, however spokeswoman Molly Snyder did say that some encrypted data was stolen but didn’t specify if it included PINs as well. So if you have shopped at Target during this time period and have paid by a credit or debit card, you might want to be extra vigilant with regards to your bank account activity. The smart thing to do would be to change PINs and cancel possibly affected cards, even though that might inconvenience you a bit.