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Posted: 11:48 a.m. Friday, Dec. 20, 2013

What you need to know about Target's debit and credit card breach

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


Worried that your debit or credit card was breached at Target during the holiday season? Here's info you need to know.

Some 70 million customers who shopped at the Red Retailer had their names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, card numbers, expiration dates, and 3-digit security codes stolen at 1,000 stores from Nov. 27 through Dec. 15. (If you shopped online during that time, you are unaffected.)

If you used a credit card at a Target cash register, this news should cause you little alarm. Simply keep an eye on your statement for bogus charges and then dispute them if they come through.

In a case like this where crooks just have your credit card number but not the physical card, normally that means zero dollar liability. In the worst case scenario, your maximum liability would be $50…and some issuers will waive even that.

If you used a debit card though, it's a whole different story. Debit cards are dangerous to your wallet. They don't have the normal protections under federal law offered by a credit card. With a breached debit card, your liability rises to $500 and can be unlimited under some circumstances.

Debit cards are marketed as being the equivalent of a credit card and they may look like it…but they don't behave the same way at all. If your debit card is breached, the money from your checking account vanishes, your checks start bouncing, and you have to fight with your own bank to get the money put back in your account.

What should you do if you used debit at Target and believe your account was breached? NBC News has these suggestions.

For further reading:

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