Scam Alert: Watch Out for Scams That Are Following the Target Breach

How the Scam Works:

You receive a text message, which claims to be from your credit card company. It says your card has been blocked in response to fraudulent activity following the recent data breach. The message asks you to call a phone number to verify your account information. Of course, the text message is just a con to get you to share your card number and other info.

As usual, this scam has many forms. Scammers have been contacting people through email, text messages and phone calls. In another version, scammers call and claim to represent Target. They ask consumers to “verify” their name, address, social security and other information to supposedly check whether it was comprised in the breach. Whatever the guise, the scammers are always after your credit card number or other personal information.

How to Spot This Scam:

The best way to protect yourself is to identify the warning signs:

• Check Target’s website: Given the number of scams surrounding the data breach, Target has posted all their official communications at Target.com/paymentcardresponse. Check any emails or texts you receive claiming to be from Target against the official list.

• Don’t believe what you see. Scammers use technology to make emails and phone calls appear to come from a reputable source. Just because it looks credible does not mean it’s safe.

• Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments. As always, do not click on links or open the files in unfamiliar emails.

• Watch for bad grammar: Typo-filled text messages and emails are usually a dead giveaway that it’s from a scammer, not a corporation.

April Lewis-Parks has more than 15 years of experience in the financial sector, she is a certified financial counselor, and a consumer affairs advocate. As the director of education and public relations for Consolidated Credit she is dedicated to generating awareness about personal finance issues and acts as their consumer affairs advocate. As host the of MissMoneyBee.com, she promotes financial education and offers timely and informative personal finance articles to educate the public. April’s promotional efforts can be seen in past issues of the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsday, Consumer Reports, the Business Journals, Money Magazine, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, among others. Connect with April on Google+.