Canadian shoppers in local Target store are likely letting out a sign of relief today as the American department store chain announced that only United States-based stores appear to have been hit by hackers that stole 40 million credit and debit card information from Target customers between November 27 and December 15.

The information that may have been compromised includes the name of the customer, credit or debit card number, the cards expiration date and the card’s three-digit security code.

Target said the hackers apparently snatched the financial data using card swiping machines of the budget retailer that have been tampered with. The practice, called card skimming, involved retrieving data stored in the magnetic stripe of credit and debit cards. The stolen data is used to create counterfeit cards that could be used to withdraw money from automatic teller machines (ATMs).

Target did not release the locations of the stores affected but said they were all in the U.S.

Customers shopping at its online store or physical stores outside the U.S., were not affected.

Back in 2005, some 94 million credit and debit card information were stolen from US-based retail store chain TJX Companies which is the mother company of Winners, HomeSense and Marshalls in Canada.

The incident was seen as a wakeup call for retailers and card companies. The breach affected approximately 65 million Visa account numbers and 29 million MasterCard accounts.

The losses by card-issuing companies on Visa accounts alone were estimated to be between US$68 and $83 million. At that time, it was estimated that the breach would cost TJMaxx about $100 per lost record.
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