Posted Thursday, December 19, 2013 --- 6:19 p.m.
If you've shopped at Target recently and used a credit or debit card your personal information could be in jeopardy.
40 million names, credit and debit card numbers, security codes, and expiration dates have been stolen across the country.
The massive data breach hit Target shoppers who used cards between November 27th and December 15th.
NBC 15 investigates the first steps you need to take to catch any problems with your accounts.
With nearly 40 Target stores in Wisconsin and 6 located right here in our viewing area, it's a popular place to shop.
Unfortunately for some people, the ease of using a card has now made things a whole lot harder.
All it takes is one swipe of a card, and before you know it, your personal information is in someone else's hands.
"I've had friends who've had their identities stolen and it's not a fun experience."
Thelma Wells lives just blocks from the Hilldale Target and says she goes there all the time, using her card to pay for prescriptions and other things.
"It's still the sort of nerve wrecking thing you hear, it is the holiday season and you have to think....oh dear!"
Sandy Chalmers with the Department of Consumer Protection has ideas, for Thelma and the other 40 million people affected by the security breach.
"As far as immediate steps that you should be taking, the first thing to do is look at your account statements and review them very carefully look for unauthorized charges or ones you don't remember making."
She says then, check your credit report, there are three agencies that do it for free each year. She says use them.
"In a situation like this you may want to check all three at once."
And if you're really worried, Chalmers says set up a fraud alert on your credit report, it won't stop someone from using your identity to set up a new card, but it might slow them down with personal verification questions.
"It's your good name, your credit says a lot about you and it can take a lot of time and energy to repair the damage."
She says a person could end up paying hundreds of dollars to get their identity back, especially if it's not caught for years down the road.
Thelma says the waiting is the hardest part.
"The worst thing is you don't know, this has millions of people involved so I don't know, is it going to be next week? Next year? Two years from now? How long do I need to worry?"
Chalmers says if you see fraudulent activity on your card you should let your bank know as soon as possible, as well as local law enforcement. For the free credit reporting agencies that Chalmers recommends you click this link