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Target Hit by Credit-Card Breach

19/12/2013 by


Target Corp. TGT -1.98% was hit by an extensive theft of its customers’ credit-card and debit-card data over the busy Black Friday weekend, people familiar with the matter said, in what appears to be a brazen breach of a

The theft was national in scope and happened in stores, not online, and may have involved tampering with the machines customers use to swipe their cards when making purchases, the people said.major retailer’s information security.

The Secret Service is investigating the breach, a spokesman said, but wouldn’t discuss details of the incident while the investigation is ongoing. Secret Service often investigates significant hacks of credit-card data, as part of its mission is to safeguard the country’s financial infrastructure and payment systems.

The Secret Service is probing a breach of Target’s credit-card reading devices. Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency

Target didn’t respond to requests for comment.

It is believed that the breach affected roughly 40,000 card devices at store registers, which could mean that millions of cardholders could be vulnerable, according to the people familiar with the incident. They also warned that details could change significantly as the investigation proceeds.

The discount chain has 1,797 stores in the U.S. and another 124 in Canada.

The apparent breach occurred during the period when Americans kick off their holiday shopping and store traffic is around its highest of the year. Retailers try to lure shoppers to stores on Black Friday with “door buster” deals and overnight hours that often draw big crowds. Retailers try to lure shoppers to stores on Black Friday with “door buster” deals and overnight hours that often draw big crowds. The breach may have gone into the Monday after Thanksgiving, one of the people said.

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