This is a short follow up to an earlier post in case that my readers are not aware.

The massive credit card heist at Target stores across the country in the heart of the holiday shopping season was nearly twice as large as previously revealed, with the retailer saying 70 million customers were hit — making it one of the largest security breach of its kind.

The company said Friday that as part of its ongoing probe it found that some customer information, apart from the payment card data previously disclosed, was stolen during the data breach.  It said this is not a new breach.

The stolen information includes names, mailing addresses, phone numbers or email addresses for up to 70 million individuals.

“I know that it is frustrating for our guests to learn that this information was taken and we are truly sorry they have to endure this,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and chief executive officer, Target.  “I also want our guests to know that understanding and sharing the facts related to this incident is important to me and the entire Target team.”

Target said that much of the data stolen is partial, but in situations where Target has an email address, it will attempt to contact the customers affected by the breach and provide them with tips to guard against consumer scams.  Target said it won’t ask customers for any personal information when it contacts them.

Target initially reported, in mid-December, that about 40 million people who used credit or debit cards at its stores over the holiday shopping season had their information compromised.  At that time, the company said the information swiped from its systems included customers’ names, expiration dates, credit card numbers, and verification codes.

The breach was first reported by Krebs on Security, a data security blog.  It occurred over some of the busiest days of the holiday shopping season, including Black Friday, and ran from Nov. 27 through Dec. 15, according to Target.

It added that customers will have no liability for the cost of any fraudulent charges.  And it will offer one year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for all customers who shopped in its stores.

My personal advice to you is if you were a victim of this theft of information at Target, cancel those cards immediately and do not wait to witness fraudulent charges on those accounts.  Between the wife and myself, we shopped at Target three different times during this period of time and possibly three different cards may have been compromised.  Although, we have not yet seen any unusual active associated with the cards, in question, we were notified by our financial lender that these accounts were being closed and new cards were being issued.  You need to be proactive to keep your credit and personal information as private as possible.  This can and will happen again and the banking industry and the credit card companies need to develop better protected credit and debit cards.  This is a very serious lapse in this countries’ ability to keep our credit information out of the hands of scammers, crooks, and thieves.

For quite a while, I have been paying with cash when we eat out at restaurants and I guess that I may have to expand this practice with other retailers starting with Target.  I will continue to shop at Target, but I will be buying less merchandise from their store and I will be paying in cash.