Target e-mails confuse wary consumers

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Con artists are now trying to capitalize on last month’s huge hacking scare that affected millions of Target customers.

The schemers are posing as Target officials and are sending out phishing e-mails to try to get shoppers to give up personal information. And the biggest problem seems to be that Target officials are making it difficult to tell the difference between the schemers and actual e-mails from Target.

As many as 110-million Target shoppers’ privacy was breached by cyber hackers, or possibly a single hacker in Russia, and another 40-million shoppers at Neiman Marcus were possibly compromised. Internet security experts suspect hackers have already struck at least six more retailers with invasive malware, and those companies may not even know it.

Ken Stasiak of SecureState said, “And was able to put it up on the internet for download for other hackers to then take, and potentially use it for malicious harm. And that’s what we believe happened to Target, as well as Neiman Marcus.”

How much personal consumer data has been compromised?

In an attempt to calm their shoppers, Target’s CEO has been sending out e-mails, informing guests of the security measures Target is taking. But the e-mail is being sent from a third-party e-mail address: TargetNews@targetbfio.com. That is only adding to the confusion.

The e-mail cautions their guests about sharing personal information, such as Social Security numbers and passwords. But Target’s offer of one year of free credit monitoring does require recipients to give their Social Security numbers, prompting an exasperated viewer to ask, “Why in the world would anyone provide their Social Security Number, especially after the problems that have already been reported?”

Cyber security experts say, once hackers develop malware, they like to share it, which could help law enforcement track it down.

“Once it’s identified, then the security community can rally around it and put controls in place. But the problem is,the hackers know that. So they manipulate or mutate this malware, and then re-use it,” Stasiak explained.

The safest way of signing up for Target’s one year of free credit monitoring is to go to their website and follow the instructions. You will have to fill in your Social Security number, but it is a $150 value.

You get three free credit reports a year, one from each reporting agency, and you should check all of your financial statements every month.

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