Target (NYSE:TGT) has been mired in a huge scandal revolving around the stolen debit and credit card information of about 40 million consumers who shopped at its stores between November 27 and December 15. On Friday, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel released a statement on the company’s website to try and curb consumer fears at a time when reductions in shopper confidence could be devastating.
“Yesterday we shared that there was unauthorized access to payment card data at our U.S. stores. The issue has been identified and eliminated,” Steinhafel stated. “We recognize this has been confusing and disruptive during an already busy holiday season. Our guests’ trust is our top priority at Target and we are committed to making this right.”
Steinhafel explains that “in other similar situations, there are typically low levels of actual fraud,” but reiterated that any guests who become victims of fraud will not be held liable for the transactions. He added that Target “will be offering free credit monitoring services” for consumers affected by the security breach with information on “how and where to access the service” being forwarded to consumers in the near future.
In a move that seems to acknowledge the potential devastating effects the situation could have on holiday shoppers, Steinhafel announced that Target would be giving consumers a discount this weekend. “We’re in this together, and in that spirit, we are extending a 10% discount – the same amount our team members receive – to guests who shop in U.S. stores on Dec. 21 and 22,” Steinhafel says.
But according to American Banker, the problem isn’t likely to go away quickly, or quietly. With banking institutions considering cancelling cards en masse and other cards set to expire soon, thieves are attempting to sell the card information on underground websites quickly before the information becomes useless.
“The guys who stole them can’t offload them fast enough, because 5-10 percent of [the cards] are about to expire. There’s a fire sale going on right now — they lose value for every day they don’t sell them,” Security blogger and expert Brian Krebs explains.