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Local man suspects he’s Target hacking victim

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Mark Rau got a not-so-nice holiday surprise while he was heading home from Christmas Day church services.

The Spotsylvania County resident stopped at 7–Eleven for coffee, swiped his debit card and was declined.

The 7–Eleven employee was nice enough to let Rau have the cup of coffee anyway, but by then, Rau had more than caffeine on his mind. He knew there should be plenty of money for a cup of joe in his checking account.

But he also knew that his wife had used the couple’s Wells Fargo debit card at Target sometime between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, the period when hackers stole credit data from about 40 million customers.

Rau logged onto his account online and saw two hefty charges that neither he nor his wife made. He immediately called Wells Fargo and got through to a customer service representative, even though it was a holiday.

“They’re now trying to determine if the account was compromised at Target,” Rau said. “I’m just assuming that it was.”

While Wells Fargo investigates the charges, Rau can’t access his money. And overdraft protection fees are piling up. A customer service representative told him it could take 10 days for the investigation to finish.

“In the meantime, we don’t have access to that money in our account,” Rau said.

Rau believes his family will be able to weather the wait as his paycheck from his physical therapy job comes through on Monday. But he and his wife won’t be able to shop the end-of-the-year sale on hardwood flooring. Without the sale price, they will pay more for their renovation project than they’d planned, so even if Wells Fargo cancels the overdraft fees, Rau will lose money from this incident.

He hadn’t been too concerned when he first heard the news about the data breach at Target. Given the number of people who shop at the major retailer, Rau assumed the chances of being robbed were slim.

“I thought it was like your chance of winning the lottery,” he said. “I thought it wouldn’t happen to us.”

In the meantime, Target Corp. announced that PIN data was obtained, although officials said that it remained “strongly encrypted” and that hackers most likely don’t have customers’ PIN numbers.

“The most important thing for our guests to know is that their debit card accounts have not been compromised due to the encrypted PIN numbers being taken,” officials stated in a news release.

Wells Fargo officials recommend doing exactly what Rau did: Contact the bank immediately if they suspect their debit card has been compromised.

“The sooner we are contacted, the faster we can act to prevent any fraud or loss,” said Wells Fargo spokesman Kris Dahl.

The U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Justice are investigating the hacking incident.

Target Corp. said customers won’t be liable for any charges they didn’t make themselves and is encouraging concerned customers to check their accounts regularly and to obtain a credit report.


Amy Flowers Umble: 540/735-1973