Joey Connaughty didn't know how to explain the $275 charge at the Home Depot in Racine and the nearly $75 charge at a gas station in Chicago that she found on her debit card statement last week, considering neither she nor her husband were in either location.
After seeing the news on Thursday morning that the credit and debit card numbers of as many as 40 million Americans were compromised over the last three weeks, the Madison woman now believes she has an answer and as a result, a new debit card.
"You feel very vulnerable at that point, like I can't believe someone was able to get our account," she said in Texas Tubb’s Taco Palace, the restaurant she runs on the city's east side. "The scope of this is so huge. It's hard to wrap your brain around how many people are going to be affected by this at the worst possible time of year."
The situation is being monitored by Sandy Chalmers, who runs the state's Consumer Protection Division inside the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. She said it appears the theft, which took place from Nov. 27 to Dec. 15, involved the information stored on the magnetic strip on the backs of credit and debit cards. Until the details of how that took place surface, Chalmers is encouraging consumers to be vigilant.
"Fraud is everywhere in today's society," she said. "Companies spend millions and millions and millions of dollars to protect themselves from this kind of intrusion, so the message for consumers is you have to do your due diligence as well and do whatever you can to protect yourself."
That includes regularly checking your card's statements if you shopped at Target during that time frame and used credit or debit to make your purchase. It also includes getting a free credit report and placing a fraud alert on your credit report so that any future loans would need to be double-checked before being authorized.
Target has also set up a list of things you can do as to protect your finances online.