The Final Word

By Jeff Girod

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Posted January 16, 2014 in News
JeffGirod1Target customers probably feel like they’re the ones wearing a bull’s eye.

Last week, the retailer announced that hackers had stolen sensitive data from a total of 110 million Target customers. The take included names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and payment card data. The total of 110 million cardholders is 70 million more than Target had previously reported shortly after the security breach occurred in December.

It now ranks as the nation’s largest cybercrime against a single retailer. But on the plus side, Target still has incredible savings on bath mats!

Then again, there’s a fine line behind a steal and stolen. One week after hackers hit Target, security experts noticed the black market was flooded with 10 to 20 times the amount of high-value stolen credit cards for sale. Security blogger Brian Krebs said some Target customer’s cards were selling online for up to $100.

Currently on Target.com, it urges you to sign up for a Target credit or debit card—with up to $40 cash withdrawal at checkout. (There’s no mention if the $40 will be given to you or directly to the thief who will steal your account number.)

So what are our alternatives?

Pay in cash. Shop at a store that still respects the barter system and allows you to pay for items with animal pelts, fatted calves or your sister (not to be confused with the fatted calf).

Or better yet—demand that stores like Target do better. It’s supposed to be Target for crap’s sake, not Lenny’s House of Dented Hub Caps.

There’s a level of professionalism we expect whenever we fork over our credit card. Department stores are supposed to deal in discretion. And we expect them to be more reliable than a five-year-old running a Kool-Aid stand stirring his fruit punch with a spatula.

What we don’t expect is for a multi-mullion dollar conglomerate like Target to issue a press release and state that it “lost” our credit card information—what does that even mean?  When it happened, Target wasn’t even sure how many cardholders had been hacked. Well maybe it was 40 million… No wait, make that 110 million.

How do you lose 110 million of anything? I lose my car keys. A few times in college I lost my pants. And, OK, there was one office Christmas party when I tried to take a copy machine out for a “walk.”

But is Target that inept, or were they hoping that everybody would just look at next month’s bank statement and not notice the extra $20,000 in charges for rims, Gucci purses and Oxycontin?

More importantly, who knew 110 million people shopped at Target?  That’s 45 percent of the US adult population. No wonder I can never find parking at Target, (and we all seem to be wearing the same shitty beige sweater).

You know those people who say that everyone is out to get us? I used to think they were paranoid weirdoes who needed more vitamin D and a girlfriend. Now I think everyone is out to get us.

Oh no, maybe not out to get us intentionally. I don’t think there’s some sea pirate sailing around the Gulf of Mexico flying a tattered “Get Jeff” flag.

I just think the world is full of bumbling nincompoops who can’t handle a simple transaction for Drano and dress socks without announcing my pin number to the highest bidder.

And it’s not just Target. It’s government, it’s big pharma, and sometimes it’s the guy weaving his 2-ton big rig in the lane next to mine after an all-nighter. There are good and bad people everywhere. Just be on your toes.

Wear your seatbelt. Look both ways. Pack a lunch. When somebody tells you the answer, check it again, and this time do your own long division.

The credit card breach at Target isn’t the worst thing that can happen. But it’s a reminder of how vulnerable we are, about how we’re all connected, and how it only takes one thing.

The big bad thing may still get us. But at least this way maybe you’ll see it coming.

Hopefully it won’t be while you’re trying on a beige sweater.

Contact Jeff Girod at finalword@ieweekly.com


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