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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
According to the state Office of Consumer Protection, as many as 121,000 Hawaii shoppers may have been affected to the recent Target data breach.
The retailer had said earlier this month that about 40 million credit and debit accounts were compromised by computer hackers in a data breach at its stores nationwide. The breach occurred on purchases made at company stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.
"We were monitoring news accounts, the same as everyone else, and we were also able to communicate with Target directly," said Office of Consumer Protection Executive Director Bruce Kim. "Based on the information that they released to us recently, we were able to confirm this number" of Hawaii shoppers.
Target officials also confirmed on its Web site that the hackers were able to access some of the personal identification numbers, or PINs, from ATM cards used in its stores.
The developments have made shoppers wary.
"When you come shopping in these places thinking that you have the safety and the protection, and things like this can happen," said shopper Aleda Ziegler at the Salt Lake Target. "And if it can happen to some place like this, then it can happen anywhere."
According to the state, businesses are required under Hawaii law to notify customers of any security breach involving personal information. The law also requires businesses to notify the Office of Consumer Protection
"We are working with Target to ensure that consumers are not held liable for fraudulent purchases," Kim said.
"I'm shopping with cash," said Ziegler. "I intentionally went to the bank machine and I took some cash out to avoid running into any of these hassles with credit information and all of that."
"Hawaii consumers who shopped at Target should take precautions to prevent their accounts from being used by monitoring their bank and credit card statements and reporting suspicious activities to their bank or card company, "said Kim.
"Keep your guard up for the next year because it may take time for any fraudulent transactions to appear," he added.
Many of the banks and credit unions in the islands have been on alert since the news of the breach.
Target has agreed to free credit report monitoring for one year for all cardholders affected by the breach.
If you believe that you have been a victim of identity theft, the following may be of help:
Identity Theft Warning Signs
Unauthorized charges on your 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
Unauthorized credit cards or charges on your credit report
Tips on Protecting Yourself Following a Security Breach
Contact your creditors, including credit card companies, banks, and other lenders, to determine whether there is any suspicious or unauthorized activity that has occurred on your accounts.
Place an initial fraud alert on your credit report. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report. Order it and review it for problems.
Contact any of the three consumer reporting companies to place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert does not block potential new credit, but places a comment on your history. Creditors should contact you prior to opening a new account. You only need to contact one of the three companies because that company is required to contact the other two. Once you place a fraud alert on your file, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report. The credit reporting agencies will send you a letter telling you how to order your free report. When you receive your credit reports, review them carefully and look for any suspicious activity.
Be alert. It's especially important in the first year following a security breach notification.
All consumers can obtain a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies, regardless of whether they have been identity theft victims. Call 1-877-322-8228 or request one online at www.annualcreditreport.com. You can request a report from one of the reporting companies every four months and carefully review this report for suspicious activity.
Credit Reporting Agencies:
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241