NEWPORT NEWS-It was 8 p.m. when Stephanie Hunter got a call from her bank telling her the bad news. Someone had her debit card number and was racking up purchases 183 miles from her Newport News home in Greenbelt, Maryland. Her account was almost empty.
"They made about four or five charges at that point and they (the bank) were flagging my card," recalled Hunter, who panicked when she got the news because her husband's paycheck was due to deposited an hour later.
Both Hunter and the bank immediately suspected the trouble started when she'd used her VISA debit card at Target on Jefferson Avenue in Newport News.
Target announced in December that hackers gained access to information on about 40 million customers nationwide, including credit and debit card data, name and pin numbers, between November 27 and December 15. Later, Target revealed that 70 million customers' names, mailing address and phone numbers were also stolen.
Hunter wonders, though, if the intrusion happened at a later date. She used her card on Dec. 31 and two days later the thieves went on their spending spree.
In a one-sentence statement to 13News Now, Target says customers shouldn't be concerned that the breach could still be active: "The dates of the breach remain unchanged - November 27 - December 15."
Chartway Credit Union Regional President Kimberly J. Little says when a big breach happens, financial institutions get ready. They expect an influx of calls from worried customers.
"We will know often before the consumer will know. The system knows when something seems off, a lot of times it's location, it's timing, it's the size of the transaction," Little says.
Little recommends everyone monitor their credit reports, change the pin number and check accounts often. She also warns to keep watching because thieves sometimes wait a while before using your information.
Attorney General Mark Herring is encouraging customers to take advantage of Target's offer for free credit monitoring to all customers, not just those those who had information compromised in the data breach.
AG Herrin's full news release
Fortunately for Hunter, her bank refunded the stolen money.
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