It turns out that Target's (NYSE: TGT) data breach is even more massive than the company originally thought. The retailer announced last month that up to 40 million encrypted personal identification numbers were stolen, but today, the company upped that number to 70 million customers.
Target also added that in addition to the PIN information, the breach exposed names, mailing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of shoppers who made purchases between Nov. 27 to Dec. 15.
"I know that it is frustrating for our guests to learn that this information was taken, and we are truly sorry they are having to endure this," Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in a statement.
Target added that much of the data is "partial in nature," but in the cases where a customer's email address is on file, the company will contact them to provide tips for guarding against consumer scams and other information. The company will also extend its credit monitoring.
As the number of customers affected by the data breach rises, Target continues to struggle rebuilding a strong rapport with shoppers. Target said sales for the quarter had been stronger than expected prior to its mid-December announcement of the breach, but were "meaningfully weaker" thereafter. The snafu came during the critical year-end shopping season, which caused the retailer to cut its forecast for the fourth quarter. Target estimates adjusted earnings per share will be $1.20 to $1.30, down from a previous estimate of $1.50 to $1.60. Management also estimates comparable store sales fell 2 percent to 6 percent during the fiscal fourth quarter after they announced the data breach.
A separate study has found that cases of credit card fraud since the breach actually haven't been out of the ordinary according to BillGuard, a third-party service that lets consumers register their credit cards, then uses software to scan bills for fraud. The company says that among its customers who used their cards at Target between Nov. 27 to Dec. 15. about 2 percent were hit with fraud, almost exactly the same fraud rate as a control sample. Despite this, Target has been hit with several lawsuits from customers claiming the breach led to their identity being stolen.
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