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There is little doubt that Target is devoting significant time and resources to rectifying the monstrous credit and debit card data breach that occurred between November 27 and December 15, which has consumed media outlets over the past month.  Initially, the data breach was thought to have only affected 40 million card users.  In response, on December 20, Target’s CEO, Gregg Steinhaffel, issued an apology letter admitting that unauthorized access to payment card data occurred and that Target would be offering a 10% discount on December 21 and 22 for those customers still willing to shop at Target. 

Since Target published its apology letter and discount offer, Target estimates that at least 170 million people were affected by the breach.  Earlier this week, Target decided to kick its public relations blitz into high gear.  On Monday, January 13, a lengthy interview starring Steinhaffel aired on CNBC.  Steinhaffel apologized to customers, assured customers whose card information was compromised that they will suffer no liability for fraudulent purchases, and explained that he is on a mission to earn back customers’ trust.

Target then took out full-page newspaper ads in the nation’s top 50 markets, including ads that appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, and the Star Tribune.  Again, the thrust of Target’s message was remorse, reassurance, and regaining customers’ trust.

Sounds like the bill is getting expensive, huh?  Now consider this.  Target is offering ALL individuals, not just customers that used payment cards between November 27 and December 15, one year of free credit monitoring through ProtectMyID, provided by Experian!  All you have to do is visit Creditmonitoring.target.com, follow the instructions, and Target will send you an activation code.  You can then use that activation code at www.protectmyid.com/target to obtain the free credit monitoring.  Target is likely receiving some discount based upon the shear magnitude of its order, but the type of one year credit monitoring is typically valued at approximately $200. 

It is unclear exactly what the total bill will be for dealing with this data breach, but we can be sure that it will be expensive.

For Target’s sake, it is a good thing it is a profitable company that, seemingly, can shoulder this blow.  But, how many companies can deal with such extreme response costs?  Can your business? 

There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Businesses can be proactive about cybersecurity.  Contact the experts who deal with these situations daily, and avoid the devastating costs on the back end.

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