The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is looking into a security breach involving Target stores in central California, ABC affiliate KXTV in Sacramento reports, though it is unrelated to the cyberattack that affected Target stores across the country at the end of 2013. The new issue was detected in January, and investigators identified a suspect in April.
Postal inspectors executed two search warrants on a suspect Thursday in Stockton, Calif., related to an apparent scheme to steal the credit card information of Target REDcard holders, KXTV reports. The suspect reportedly told investigators he figured out the sequencing system for the cards, allowing him to make fraudulent cards and use them to buy at least $200,000 in merchandise. Investigators believe hundreds of cardholders’ accounts and identities have been compromised as a result of the operation.
Calls and emails requesting comment from Target and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service were not immediately returned.
There may be little information available, but concerned customers can identify potential fraud by checking their REDcard activity for unauthorized transactions, particularly those made in the central California area.
Though this incident is unrelated to the other data breach, it could further damage customer confidence in a company already battling reputation issues. Target announced earlier this year efforts to review and improve company security procedures following the massive breach (and after this particular incident took place).
Target is also not the only company scrambling to keep up with and clean up after hackers. The Secret Service recently announced the widespread use of a type of malware named “Backoff,” which is believed to have compromised payment data at roughly 1,000 American businesses, possibly including Target. In light of that revelation, any consumer should take the time to regularly monitor their credit and debit card activity, so fraudulent purchases don’t go unnoticed.
Debit card fraud could mean you’re out of the money you rely on to pay important bills, and credit card fraud could seriously hurt your credit standing unless you get the problem resolved. In addition to monitoring your payment card transactions, you should also use your credit score as a fraud monitoring tool by checking it for significant, unexpected changes. You can see two of your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.
Updated 3:50 p.m. – Molly Snyder, a spokeswoman for Target, provided us with the following statement:
“It’s important to note that there is absolutely no indication that this situation is in any way related to a breach of Target’s networks or point-of-sale systems,” Snyder said via email. “Information protection is a top priority at Target and our investigations team has partnered with local California law enforcement and the local office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to bring charges against this individual that we believe has engaged in physical credit card fraud.”
More on Identity Theft:
- How Can You Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen?
- What Should I Do If I’m a Victim of Identity Theft?
- How Credit Impacts Your Day-to-Day Life
Image: Marcus Quigmire