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Target overwhelmed with customer inquiries in wake of massive breach

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After word spread that a massive data breach may have exposed credit and debit card information of more than 40 million customers, Target Corp's call centers and website were overwhelmed with inquiries Thursday.

Those who made purchases at U.S. stores using credit or debit cards between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 have been advised to check their accounts for unauthorized transactions. However, the high volume of traffic on Target's website prevented REDcard holders from accessing their accounts online, the Star Tribune reports. Customers attempting to reach the retailer over the phone experienced similar delays.

A company hotline set up to assist those who may have been affected by the breach was also inundated, creating very long wait times.

Minnesota Pubic Radio reports the company did make an effort to respond to hundreds of inquiries on both Facebook and Twitter.

The Minneapolis-based retailer learned of the breach on Dec. 15, the Chicago Tribune says.

“We identified the unauthorized access, we took immediate steps to eliminate it and the issue has been resolved,” Target spokeswoman Katie Boylan told the Star Tribune.

A third-party forensics team and the Secret Service, who typically looks into access device fraud, are investigating how the huge breach happened.

The stolen data, including customer names, card numbers, expirations dates and the three-digit security numbers on the back of the card, would allow thieves to create counterfeit cards.

Boylan would not say whether any of its customers have lost money due to the illegal access. Target, however, is likely to incur costs from the breach.

Avivah Litan, a Gartner analyst who specializes in cyber-security and fraud detection, told the Chicago Tribune that the retailer will face fines by card issuers for non-compliance with payment card security standards.

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