TARGET BREACH: Point-of-sale malware to blame; lawsuits filed - KMSP-TV

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TARGET BREACH: Point-of-sale malware to blame; lawsuits filed

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On Monday, Target confirmed that the massive data breach that compromised the credit and debit card data of 40 million customers originated from malware that affected the point-of-sale system in U.S. stores.

On Monday, company representatives said Target is actively partnering with both the United States Secret Service and the Department of Justice in the ongoing investigation; however, in a release, the company said they would not release details about the status or forensic elements of the investigation at the request of the Secret Service.

Meanwhile, affected customers continue to struggle to reach Target by phone. Company officials say they are still experiencing a high volume of calls and have doubled their staff in an effort to resolve issues.

Yet, several Target shoppers who contacted Fox 9 News say long hold times and disconnections continue to occur despite the increase.

Target has sent out e-mails to 17 million customers so far regarding the breach, but company officials say that if no fraudulent activity has been seen, there is no urgent need to call. Anyone who suspects they may be a victim of fraud is being directed to call 1-866-852-8680.

That strategy isn't sitting well with many shoppers who would rather be proactive, however -- especially those who want to cancel or deactivate a REDcard but were turned away from in-store service counters and told they can only do so by phone.

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Target is disseminating additional information via social media sites -- including a step-by-step guide to set up transaction alerts -- for REDcard accounts.

On Monday afternoon, company officials also reached out to attorneys general in several states to invite them to a call with Target's general counsel to bring them up-to-date on the data breach.

That effort also comes on the heels of the first lawsuits to be filed. At least two attorneys in the Twin Cities are now representing three clients as part of a class-action lawsuit.

Attorney Greg McEwen filed a suit on behalf of Sarah Horton.

"She's concerned about her information and others," he explained. "We hope anybody that lost anything will be made whole, and the other [goal] is that -- again, hopefully, it will make things safer and it won't happen again."

Mark Heaney is a consumer rights attorney who received two calls on Monday morning as well.

"I think there are going to be many, many lawsuits," he admitted.

While Heaney hasn't yet decided whether or not he will file suits against Target, he believes that all will be consolidated and likely filed in Minnesota since Target is headquartered here.

"At this point in time, we're only hearing Target's side of the story," Heaney said. "We don't know how long [they knew] the information was compromised."

A Target spokesperson told Fox 9 News they could not comment on ongoing litigation. Instead, the spokesperson stressed that the company is in the process of establishing a complimentary credit monitoring service and will reach out to affected customers in the coming weeks.

Although the retailer tried to make up for the breach by offering a 10 percent discount at stores, some reports show buying was down 3 to 4 percent over the weekend -- not likely what the company hoped to see in the lead-up to Christmas.

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