Since Target has confirmed a data breach at their store locations last month, there has been a lot of discussion about fraud and identity theft. What happened at Target stores during November 27 – December 15 is known as existing card account fraud. In order for this type of fraud to occur, a thief needs the magnetic stripe information embedded in the card and the card’s PIN in order to make ATM or debit transactions. However, most debit card transactions can be processed as credit transactions so a thief doesn’t necessarily need the PIN in order to fraudulently charge your account.
The magnetic stripe on the back of the card typically contains the cardholder’s name, card number, expiration date, and an additional code called the Card Verification Value (CVV). Once obtained, this information makes it easy for thieves to make fraudulent purchases. The thief can accomplish this in two different ways. They may use the stolen information to make purchases online or over the phone without actually having a card. To make fraudulent transactions where a card is present, thieves embed the stolen magnetic stripe information onto another card using a card reader. In instances of existing account card fraud, consumers can typically best protect themselves by closely and consistently reviewing transaction history on their accounts. With diligent review, problems are typically resolved fairly quickly with very little consumer liability.
Identity theft occurs when someone steals another individual’s identity in order to gain access to finances, credit history, and reputation for their own gain. Often, new lines of credit are taken out falsely in the victim’s name, bank accounts are drained, credit cards are maxed out, new utility accounts are opened, or medical treatment is billed to insurance. In the instance of identity theft, consumers can spend many years and thousands of dollars to resolve the ensuing credit issues. Since this type of fraud frequently involves the establishment of new accounts as well as accessing existing accounts, in addition to reviewing transactions on existing accounts, it may also be beneficial to periodically review credit report information to check for new accounts or unrecognized inquiries.
Target is now offering one year of free credit monitoring that includes identity theft insurance to all guests that shopped in US stores. It includes a free copy of your Experian credit report, daily credit monitoring, ID Theft resolution, and ID Theft insurance, among other things. If you shopped at a Target store in the US, visit Target’s website for more information about their free credit monitoring service.
The key point our customers should know is that even if you are signed up to receive credit monitoring through Target, or any other company, you still need to be diligent about monitoring all your accounts. Credit monitoring alerts reflect changes in your credit report, which would not be timely indicators of fraudulent charges made to your accounts. We strongly recommend you continue to closely monitor your accounts via online banking or MyCardStatement.com. Notify Hills Bank immediately at 1-800-445-5725(HILLSBK) if you notice unusual or fraudulent activity.
Hills Bank would also like to remind you that we will never ask for personal account information by email, text, or phone. Do not respond to unsolicited requests for personal and financial account information via email, text, or phone. If you receive a request for personal information which appears to be from Hills Bank, please contact Hills Bank at 1-800-445-5725(HILLSBK) or visit any Hills Bank location to verify the validity of the request. We also recommend you never include confidential information in any unsecured email message.