A passer-by walks near an entrance to a Target retail store Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 in Watertown, Mass. Target says that about 40 million credit and debit card accounts may have been affected by a data breach that occurred just as the holiday shopping season shifted into high gear. STEVEN SENNE — AP Photo
Target is grappling with security as well as a public relations nightmare just as the holiday shopping season is starting to wrapping up.
On Tuesday the nation's second largest discounter said that the data is connected to about 40 million credit and debit card accounts that were stolen as part of a breach that began over the Thanksgiving weekend.
The data theft marks the second largest credit card breach in the U.S. history after the retailer TJX, which is the parent compay of T.J. Maxx, HomeGoods and Marshalls announced in 2007 that at least 45.7 million credit and debit card users were exposed to credit card fraud.
The acknowledgement from came a day after news reports started surfacing that the discounter was investigating a breach.
Target says that cuatomers who made purchases and swipped their cards at terminals in its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have had their accounts exposed. The data stolen includes customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and also the three-digit security codes located on the backs of cards.
According to the company online purchases were not affected by the breach.
The stolen information included Target store brand cards and major card brands such as Visa and MasterCard.