Target: Customers will not be held financially responsible for fraud

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Target assured customers they will not be held financially responsible for any fraudulent activity following a breach that affected an estimated 40 million credit and debit card accounts.

In a statement on Friday Target CEO Gregg W. Steinhafel said the issue has been identified and eliminated. Steinhafel said, "We want to reassure guests that they will not be held financially responsible for any credit and debit card fraud."

He added that Target will be offering free credit monitoring services to their customers.

FOX 9 reports experts have traced the hackers to Southeast Asia, but it's still unclear who's behind it or how it was done.

Computer expert Mark Lanterman says Target is ahead of the curve in a response to the breach, according to the FOX 9 report. Lanterman says Target discovered the breach Dec. 15, and came forward just two days later.

He says the attack appears to be highly sophisticated and came at the worst possible time, before Black Friday. Lanterman believes hackers will now sell the numbers on the black market, for a few dollars each, while others will make counterfeit credit cards.

Steinhafel said the company understands it has been difficult for customers to reach them via the website and call center. "We apologize and want you to understand that we are experiencing unprecedented call volume."

He said the company is working to build capacity to meet their customers' needs.

In his statement Steinhafel said, "We take this crime seriously. It was a crime against Target, our team members and most importantly, our guests."

Steinhafel said, in that spirit, they are extending a 10 percent discount, the same amount team members receive, to customers who shop in U.S. stores Dec. 21 and 22.

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