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Target incident should be wake up call for businesses

Jan 07, 2014 Dave King

Retail giant Target recently announced a breach that put the credit information of more than 40 million customers at risk. Those people now have to worry about being a victim of identity theft, which could lead to liability issues for the company.

Other businesses should use this incident as a wake up call to better protect customer data. And if a breach ever occurs, businesses need to know what to tell people so they don't become victims.

Here are just a few tips companies can provide customers with:

- Check credit card statements frequently: One of the biggest indicators of identity theft is incorrect information on statements. For this reason, it is important that people at risk take a look at these documents on a regular basis, according to CNN Money. Online banking has made this much easier, as all account holders need to do is log in to view up-to-date transactions.

- Get a copy of a credit report: Bank statements aren't the only place that will show evidence of identity theft. Businesses also need to tell customers to get a copy of their credit report, according to This document can show any accounts opened in a person's name that are fraudulent. Also, each of the three credit bureaus is required to provide a free copy of a report to people annually, so customers have no excuse not to check their reports.

- Call the credit card company: Businesses that experience a breach need to notify customers and inform them to get in contact with their credit card company. In most cases, providers will offer credit fraud monitoring services free of charge, which can help ease the worry of becoming a victim of identity theft. By simply calling the number on the back of the credit card, people can be protected from fraud.

- Replace the credit card: If all else fails, customers who could become a victim of identity theft as a result of a breach at a retailer might want to consider getting a new credit card. This could be a pain because the number will change, but that is much easier than getting through the trouble of having credit card information stolen by an identity thief.