Bogus Target charges may not appear for months

December 19, 2013 (CHICAGO)

This is the bad kind of credit card swiping: Fraud.

When it happens, it is the jurisdiction of the United States Secret Service. Thursday night that is who leads this investigation of the security breach at target stores across the country.

Federal authorities believe that thieves planted a virus in Target's computer system that infected those point-of-sale terminals and sent your credit card information straight to the crooks.

The breach began the day before Thanksgiving, probably by an organized, expert criminal organization according to experts. It continued undetected until last Sunday when Target security executives learned they had a problem.

But the company didn't tell the public for three days, claiming they were too busy kicking off an investigation. The story broke on a security blog.

Only Thursday did Target acknowledge the breach.

"You should be worried," said Steve Bernas, Better Business Bureau. "No one knows the extent, I mean no one knows the extent of it yet."

The thieves are likely to sell the raw data to black market vendors, who would then use the information to make fake cards, meaning it could be months before bogus charges show up in your account.

After such a credit card crime who should be concerned?

Investigators say any target customer who used a credit or debit card between November 27 and December 15 and not just Target cards: Visa, Master Card, American Express, any credit card that was swiped in a store. Online purchases appear unaffected.

Thieves are thought to have stolen the customer's name, card number, expiration date and card security code.

Target says there is no evidence that Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) stolen from people who link their cards directly to bank accounts.

Anyone who shopped in a target store with a card is urged to carefully monitor their account for unusual charges.

Target executives Thursday night say the immediate credit card crisis is over, that no more numbers are being siphoned off, and indeed according to an I-Team producer, Target employees Thursday resumed soliciting new customers for store credit cards, saying all was well.

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