The compromise of millions of consumers’ information now has Target sending out millions of data breach notification letters and emails to victims and potential victims all over the country. If you’re among that population, you may have already received some form of communication from Target informing you of the potential exposure of your information and what you might do about it.
But consumer beware. The high profile nature of this breach has scammers and identity thieves swooping in to ravage this already exposed population like vultures after a carcass. The primary method seems to be sending fraudulent emails or notification letters purporting to be representing Target in an effort to trick consumers into giving them their personal information. So if you’ve received a letter from “Target,” here are a few ways to check to ensure the letter you’ve received is legitimate, and not an attempt to scam you.
- The Letter Sounds Urgent: Target is currently offering free credit monitoring for victims of the exposure, provided they sign up by April 30, 2014. If the email you receive urges you to respond immediately, there’s a good bet it’s a scam. Scammers don’t want you to take time to think, they want your information.
- They Ask For Personal Information: A legitimate organization will never ask for personally identifying information in an email. Period. The End. Any time such a request is made, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s from a would-be scammer. The actual Target email will send you a token inside an email which will take you to a secure website to enter your information. That website is creditmonitoring.target.com. At your request, they will send you an activation code which, following an email authentication, will allow you to sign up for the free service.
- There Are Spelling and Grammatical Errors: Target is a huge corporation. They can afford to hire people that can speak and write the English language with proper grammar. If your letter has glaring spelling or grammatical errors, you can be assured it’s a scam email; likely from another country where English isn’t the first language.
- Signup requires a pre-paid money card, online Pay Pal transfer, or Western Union transfer: Target’s credit monitoring offer is free, so there’s no need to pay anything. Any attempt to collect payment through any method whatever is a fraudster’s attempt to rip you off.
Consumers with additional questions should contact the Identity Theft Resource Center toll free at (888) 500-4430 or visit them online at www.idtheftcenter.org.
"To Victims of Target Breach: Don’t Let Crooks Double Dutch You" was written by Matt Davis. Matt is Director of Business Alliances at the Identity Theft Resource Center. We welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to the author and linking back to the original posting.