Targate is a modern pain in my cyber neck

Well, the Targate scandal’s illicit tendrils have now reached into my perceived dome of security.

Yeah, I’m coining the CNN-style phrase Targate scandal to describe Target’s data breach that’s been all over the news for the past month. Get it? The Watergate scandal in 1972 began with petty thievery at the Watergate Hotel and culminated in the resignation of the president of the United States? This Target attack began with stolen credit card data and may end up being the historic take-down of capitalism.

For those of you living under a rock, scheming hackers — who, it’s been revealed just this week, are skilled pros who have ties to organized crime in, of all godforsaken Cold War places, Russia — managed to steal data from debit and credit cards of consumers who shopped for baubles, buttons and bows (and everything else) at Target before Christmas. First it was 40 million consumers. Then it was 70 million.

I thought I was immune, but I received an email from Target yesterday confessing that my name, mailing address, phone number or email address may have been taken during the intrusion, too.

“I am truly sorry this incident occurred and sincerely regret any inconvenience it may cause you,” Gregg Steinhafel (or his minions quite likely) wrote in his email to me.

Or maybe this smooth talking email is from the hackers themselves?

(It’s not. It’s legit. At least, it appears to be legit. But I thought using my credit card at Big Box stores was a legitimate risk, too.)

Here’s the really weird and slightly scary thing: I didn’t use a debit or credit card at Target anytime between Black Friday and Christmas this year. News of the breach hit the airways Dec. 19, and I assumed the flow of illicit info had been stemmed by then.

I did use my debit card at Target on Dec. 26 (to purchase $6.82 worth of crappy holiday gift wrap I won’t use until next year, dumb me).

And Target alerted me to the data breach about my name/address/phone/email by email. How did Target get my email? Is that information somehow part of the magnetic stripe on my debit card, too? I’m not a registered user at target.com. I’m sure. I checked.

Anyone else feel like the other shoe has yet to drop?

Ironically, I thought I was in the clear before I received Target’s ominous email warning yesterday. I spent an hour on Tuesday acting as my own cyber security specialist and had proudly announced to my Beloved that our accounts were safe and secure.

Why? I couldn’t go a half hour lately without hearing/reading/seeing alarmists talking about the Targate scandal and other privacy breaches (Neiman Marcus, Edward Snowden, Twitter, Adobe, I could go on), so I was on edge anyway. And then we inadvertently discovered a suspicious charge of $1,674 (!) on one of our credit cards that, upon investigation, turned out to be for a Delta flight from London to Atlanta (we don’t live in and haven’t traveled to London and/or Atlanta in years). My Beloved had the charge cancelled forthwith.

So on Tuesday, I reconciled checking accounts, reviewed credit card statements and tracked down each and every unrecognizable transaction. Just to be sure.

I was sure. I thought we were impenetrable.

But I was wrong.

The whole mess makes me want to drop off the grid, toss my cell phone and use cash exclusively. I don’t blame Mr. Steinhafel or Target or the inventor of the magnetic stripe. I blame myself. I’m a materialistic American who buys things with pieces of plastic,  who heartily embraces modern conveniences like online banking and Amazon.com, who uses email (and blogs about herself! Aargh! How reckless!).

I won’t drop off the grid, of course. It’s just an empty threat. Instead, I’ll add the thoroughly modern tasks of ‘account surveillance” and “credit monitoring” to my list of things to do.

I guess it’s better than “track mastodon” or “pan for gold.”

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5 responses to “Targate is a modern pain in my cyber neck

  1. The banks aren’t telling you this because they want you to trust their security measures. Don’t. Just get new cards so that when they sell your data two years from now you don’t have to worry about it. Big banks even offer instant debit cards to use temporarily while you’re waiting for your replacements. The other measure ifs taking advantage of the credit monitoring service from Target and Experian. One year free.

  2. Also: i have registered with target.com and shop at target frequently and i didn’t get an email….

  3. Ugh, I don’t want to change my cards. But maybe I have to. I also am taking advantage of the credit monitoring.

    • Either way, good luck 😦 the whole experience sucks. I’m just hoping that with the measures that my husband and I have taken that it’ll only be the inconvenience of replacing our cards. We’ve got a common last name, so identity theft is already a pretty big risk for us. womp womp

  4. I told my bank I used my debit card at Target during the “danger zone” and without my prompting, issued me a new card with a new number. Also you can’t carry that much cash around with you, someone sees you pull that wad out of your wallet and you’re an instant mugging victim.

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