AG warns of new wave of scams after credit card breach - WNCT

AG warns of new wave of scams after credit card breach

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

Attorney General Roy Cooper is warning North Carolinians to keep an eye out for a new wave of scammers.

After the massive security breach at Target, fake emails and letters are being sent out that are tricking people into thinking their information is at risk.

Since millions of people are being affected by the breach, Cooper says scammers are taking full advantage of it.

After the holidays, hackers ripped the credit card data of nearly 40 million Target customers and the personal information of nearly 70 million more. The information included names, addresses, phone numbers and emails.

Investigators have determined the information was stolen from credit card readers.

According to a cyber-intelligence firm, when customers typically swipe their debit or credit card, the information travels to the cash register where it is then decrypted.

In that fraction of a second, experts say the new virus grabbed personal data and sent it to hackers.

But now the Department of Homeland Security is warning other retail stores that they may be next.

"With this new information that many other retailers could have potentially been breached, that number could potentially double in the next couple of weeks," said Internet security expert Robert Siciliano.

Target is now doing damage control, offering one year of free credit monitoring to its customers

Cooper says scammers are sending out realistic looking letters and emails offering the same service, some from stores who haven't even been breached.

"They send fake emails to you to tell you we can help or we can monitor your credit," said Cooper.

But instead of helping, they're fishing for your personal information, which Cooper says you should never give out over an email.

"I'm working with other Attorney's General to begin an investigation of this to determine how careful Target was and whether any laws were broken here," he said.

Security firms are working to stop hackers from hitting more stores. In the meantime, Cooper says you may want to keep a close eye out.

"You should take time to make sure that you check your credit and do the things you need to do to protect your identity," he said.

If you are a target customer and are interested in signing up for free credit monitoring, Cooper says the safest way is to log directly on the Target website and follow their instructions. Here are other tips his office is offering to protect your information

  • Don't respond to unsolicited emails or click on unfamiliar links. Even if the email includes a real-looking logo or legitimate sounding link, it could be a scam.
  • Beware of any email or text message that asks for your personal information. Even if the message doesn't mention Target, it could still be a scam.  Scammers may claim your account with another store, your bank or your power company has been compromised and ask for your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number.  Legitimate companies will not ask you for this information this way.
  • Never share personal financial information by email or text message, even with someone you know and trust, because it is not secure.
  • Report phishing attempts related to the Target breach.  File a complaint with our Consumer Protection Division at ncdoj.gov or call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina. Also, forward the entire email to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov.

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Jonathan Rodriguez

Born in California but growing up in South Carolina, Jonathan Rodriguez joined WNCN in June 2013 as a digital journalist. More>>

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