CHARLOTTE, N.C.–Instead of the presents, trees, and a Christmas feast from the people of Whoville like “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” a modern-day Grinch has stolen the names, numbers, addresses, and security codes from the magnetic strips on the backs of the credit cards of millions of Target shoppers less than a week before Christmas.
“It’s pretty scary. You go in there, you wanna buy something and just use your credit card, and all of a sudden everything is compromised,” said Target customer and South Charlotte Resident Rich Witterstaetter.
Experts recommend keeping an eye on your statements and contacting your bank or credit card company if you see fraudulent activity. As a general rule, you should get a copy of your credit report periodically, “If you’re not already online daily checking your checking account, checking your credit card, do it,” said Better Business Bureau President and CEO Tom Bartholomy.
You can also set up a fraud alert through the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. However, experts say automatic fraud detection could fail if the thieves are able to make purchases near your home. The only guaranteed way to avoid fraud is to cancel your card and get a new number. “It may take a couple of days… it may be a little of a hassle, but it beats having all of the sudden all these purchases showing up on your account,” said Bartholomy.
Rich Witterstaetter shops at Target every two weeks. He now plans to check his accounts constantly, and beginning today was even more careful. “We just went to Target, and I had to pay cash because I was afraid to use my credit card,” said Witterstaetter.
In the majority of cases, you won’t be on the hook if fraudulent charges are found on your account.
Credit card companies don’t hold consumers liable for charges they don’t make.