ABILENE, Texas - As many as 40 million people nationwide may be affected financially by a security breach of credit and debit card data at Target stores. It could include anyone who shopped at the chain between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.
Names, numbers, expiration dates and security code numbers were all stolen from the system.
Steve Abel, president of the Abilene Better Business Bureau, said it's important to take action if you shopped during that time period.
"This is a crime and it's not something that you're at fault for in any way, shape or form, so don't panic," Abel said.
If you did use a credit card, you're not liable. Monitor statements carefully, and if you see a fraudulent charge, report it immediately. Keep receipts so you can prove which charges you authorized and which you didn't.
"The funds on a debit card come out of your account immediately so that may wreak havoc with your finances," Abel said.
So if you used a debit card, be assertive in monitoring your account and dispute unauthorized charges within 60 days – in writing to both your bank and debit card company.
Target released the following statement Thursday in response to the breach:
"We are partnering with a leading third-party forensics firm to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and to examine additional measures we can take that would be designed to help prevent incidents of this kind in the future…we are putting our full resources behind these efforts."
Abilene resident Peter Frame Jr. used his debit card at Target on Dec. 12.
Frame checked everything out and said he isn't worried about continuing to shop there.
"All the eyes are on the place," Frame said. "It'd be like going to rob a bank after the bank was just robbed. Security is at its tightest."
He said that unfortunately, in a world where cards dominate, he knows these types of crimes can happen anywhere.
"It's just the way it is now, everybody uses credit, hardly anyone uses cash. It's a place for bad guys to exploit, and they will," Frame said.
Last night, the Secret Service confirmed that they are investigating the breach.
The BBB also wants to warn you to watch out for spinoff scams. If anyone calls, texts or emails saying they can help you to resolve your Target card issues, do not provide them with any additional information.
To read the full letter released by Target, click here.