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Target customers’ card accounts affected by data breach

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U.S. - CBS news has confirmed the Secret Service is investigating a security breach that involves stolen credit and debit card information from potentially millions of Target customers.

Target said Thursday morning, up to 40 million card accounts may have been affected by the data breach.

 "I almost never use cash anymore,” said Alicia Travis, a Target customer.  “I almost only use credit cards all of the time so that scares me."

 Krebs on Security, a closely watched security industry blog, says the breach started on Black Friday and lasted until this week.  The report states investigators believe thieves stole the data from credit card machines in almost all of Target’s stores nationwide.

 "It sounds like the actual payment software was hacked with a piece of malware or some other kind of security breach in the actual credit card processing itself, and that's not very common,” said Professor William McGeveran, Information Law expert.

 The magnetic strips on credit and debit cards are full of information.  "Your address, your date of birth, your social security number,” listed off Paul Oster, consumer credit expert.  “Once they access that, it's very easy for them to open up other credit cards or gift cards."

 American Express says the company is aware of the incident and is putting fraud controls in place.  Representatives for Visa and MasterCard declined to comment. 

The online report states the security breach only affected customers who shopped in stores, not online.

The Secret Service is investigating because the agency handles financial crimes.

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