After Target data breach, beware of thieves and crooks

Doreen Christensen

Doreen Christensen (January 26, 2014)

Fraudsters are having a field day.

After hackers stole credit card and personal information during the holidays from 110 million Target customers, new horror stories continue to unfold about the massive data breach.

Neiman Marcus Group has reported a data breach potentially affecting 1.1 million customers, too.

This is just the beginning.


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"There is going to be a tidal wave of credit fraud after Target's cyber breach," says Linda Webb, a security expert known as the Fraud Dog.

Webb, a former cop, runs Risk Integrity Management, a fraud consulting firm in West Palm Beach.

"When a scam like this happens, we call it the double down," she says. "Other criminals pretend to be credit card companies, law enforcement, cyber threat units."

Check your credit report. Now. It's free at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Target and Neiman Marcus customers should sign up for a year of free credit monitoring from Experian. For Target, go to CreditMonitoring.Target.com by April 23. Neiman customers can sign up by June 15 at ProtectMyID.com/NM.

The free Experian deal, normally $15.95 a month, gets you a credit report, daily credit monitoring, up to $1 million in identity theft insurance and personal assistance, according to releases.

Or place extended fraud alerts and credit freezes on credit reports to make it harder for thieves to open accounts in your name, the Federal Trade Commission says at Consumer.Gov/IDTheft.

Meanwhile, beware of crooks working the phones and computers.

Target has warned about scams and posts its official communications at Target.com/DataBreach.

"Do some due diligence," Webb says. "If you get a call saying they are from the FBI or doing a Target scam investigation, ask questions, ask for a name and phone number, and call them back."

Never give out credit card or personal information such as Social Security numbers over the phone. Do not reply to emails asking for personal information, either.

"Religiously check your credit report," Webb says. "South Florida is the fraud capital of the world."

What's your deal? Email dchristensen@sunsentinel.com or Facebook.com/DoreenDeals.

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