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Phishing and the Target Data Breach

Not only are more than 40-million Target customers dealing with news of the data breach that compromised their credit and debit card information, they also need to be on the lookout for fraudulent, “phishing” emails hoping to take advantage of it.

Shortly after news of the data breach went public, some consumers began receiving phishing emails, claiming to be from Target or from their banks regarding the Target breach.

Phishing emails are designed to look like they come from a legitimate source. The goal is to get you to click on a link and provide personal and account information. In some cases, clicking the link can also install a virus or malware on your computer.

Keep reading to learn how to recognize phishing emails and protect your personal information.

Verify the Source

Anyone can cut and paste a company’s logo into an email and design it to look like the real thing.  Be sure to check the sender’s email address and if it looks suspect, delete the email immediately. Also look for spelling and grammatical errors, which are signs an email’s origins are questionable.

Never Provide Personal Information

Your bank, credit union, credit card company or any other legitimate financial institution will never ask you to share personal information, account numbers or your social security number via email. If you receive communication asking for that information, call the institution in question directly using a phone  number you look up yourself – not the one provided in the email.

Never Click the Link Phishing

The easiest way to protect yourself from phishing scams is to never click a link within in an email, whether you’re convinced the sender is legitimate or not. Simply take a few extra seconds to open a new browser window and visit the sender’s site directly.

Take Action Immediately

If you are concerned your personal information has been compromised, you should first place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit report with each credit bureau:

  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
  • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

Then follow these detailed identity theft recovery steps listed on the Federal Trade commission’s website.