by: Maria Guerrero Updated:
SEATTLE - A massive data breach is affecting one of the biggest retailers during one of the busiest times of year.
Holiday shopping is hitting a snag for an estimated 40 million Target customers.
“That's pretty bad and I'm glad that I had a Target gift card,” said Lynn Jackson outside Target’s downtown Seattle location.
The big box chain said a data breach happened between November 27, the day before Thanksgiving, and December 15.
It could affect purchases with all credit cards, including Target’s credit card.
That’s leaving many Black Friday shoppers backtracking, trying to remember their last trip to the retail giant.
“That's when my Christmas shopping was going on,” remembered Dustin Cook.
A blog, Krebs on Security, says the thieves may have stolen the data from credit card machines in almost all Target stores in the country.
"It sounds like the actual payment software was hacked where the piece of malware or some other kind of security breach in the credit card processing itself. That's not very common," said one expert.
Card magnetic strips have your name, card number, expiration date and even the 3-digit code on the back – everything needed to create duplicate cards.
"The worst part is that it's just such a surprise, a negative one," said Chuy Ruiz.
Ruiz has been there. He’s actually still trying to figure out how someone stole his identity.
“I actually found out when I was getting my apartment lease that somewhere, I'm from New Mexico, and somewhere a lease had been taken out in Ohio with my social security number and I was denied the application so I had no idea what happened," he said.
While Target says the problem has been fixed, some loyal customers aren’t taking a chance.
“That's why I used a check instead. I'd rather not be using my debit card or credit card," said Analia Machado.
Target has a hotline for you to call if you think you’ve been impacted: 1-866-852-8680.