Hawaii residents urged to take precautions following Target data breach

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection urges Hawaii residents to take precautions if they believe they may be affected by a recent data breach involving Target stores.

Businesses are required by Hawaii law to notify customers of any security breach involving personal information in any form following discovery of the breach. Hawaii law also requires businesses to notify the Office of Consumer Protection about the breach without unreasonable delay as well as information on the timing, distribution and content of the notices sent by the business to affected persons, according to the department.

The Office of Consumer Protection is currently seeking confirmation from Target that the notice required by state law has been or will be sent to affected Hawaii residents as well as verification of the number of Hawaii residents affected by the breach.

The Office of Consumer Protection said it has received reports of a data breach involving Target which may affect a number of Hawaii residents. Target’s website reported Thursday that computer hackers obtained credit and debit card information from purchases made at company stores between Nov. 27 to Dec. 15. This breach may have included unauthorized access to payment card data, including customer names, credit or debit card numbers, the card’s expiration date and the Card Verification Value, or the three-digit security code located on the back of the card.

Current estimates are that data connected to approximately 40 million credit and debit card accounts may be have been stolen, according to the department. The breach involved transactions at Target stores when the cards were swiped. Target reports that it did not involve those making online purchases.

Anyone who believes they may be affected and has questions should call Target at (866)852-8680 or visit Target’s company website, target.com.

Target has advised customers who used a non-Target credit or debit card at a Target store between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 to direct questions about activity on a card to contact the issuing bank by calling the number on the back of the card. Target card holders should contact Target directly.

The state office provided the following signs of identity theft: unauthorized charges on a credit card; receiving credit cards that you did not seek; missing credit card bills; calls or letters from debt collectors or businesses about merchandise you did not buy or services you did not authorize; being denied credit or offered credit at less favorable terms for no apparent reason; and unauthorized credit cards or charges on your credit report.

To protect yourself following a security breach, the office suggested: contacting your creditors, including credit card companies, banks, and other lenders, to determine if unauthorized activity has occurred; place an initial fraud alert on your credit report; and obtain a free copy of your credit report and review it.

All consumers can obtain a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, regardless of whether they have been identity theft victims, according to the department. Call (877)322-8228 or request one online at annualcreditreport.com. You can request a report from one of the reporting companies every four months.