Target, stung by a massive credit-card security breach, is taking the unusual step of offering a 10% discount Saturday and Sunday in its U.S. stores at the height of the holiday rush, its CEO announced.
In addition, the company says it is going to offer free credit monitoring to customers who could be at risk from the breach.
In another development, the nation’s largest bank, JPMorgan Chase, said Saturday that it was putting limits on about 2 million debit cards used at Target during the period in which the fraud was perpetrated. Those customers were told in an email and on the website they could only use their cards for no more than $100 in cash withdrawals and $300 in total purchases per day.
The actions come after the Minneapolis-based mass-market retailing giant disclosed Thursday that about 40 million credit and debit card accounts were stolen starting with the Thanksgiving weekend. Patrons who swiped credit cards at Target stores from Nov. 27 to Dec. 15 could be at risk.
The company has said that it doesn’t believe that personal identification numbers, or PINs, were exposed.
The breach appears to have been the second largest in U.S. history, topped only by a 2005 case involving retailer TJX, which had 45.7 million card users victimized, according to the Associated Press.
Target was besieged by concerned customers after the breach was disclosed. It says its phone lines have been tied up as a result. On Friday, the 1,800-store chain reacted by announcing its special program and trying to reassure consumers that data can no longer be stolen.
“The issue has been identified and eliminated,” wrote CEO Gregg Steinhafel in a noteon Target’s website. “We recognize this has been confusing and disruptive during an already busy holiday season. Our guests’ trust is our top priority at Target and we are committed to making this right.”
He apologizes and says that the 10% storewide discount, available only this weekend, is the same that employees receive. It will be available for in-store purchases, not those made online.
He says that just because customers may have shopped at Target during the period in which data thieves were at work doesn’t necessarily mean they are victims. Not only are there “typically low levels of actual fraud” in these situations, but “we want to reassure guests that they will not be held financially responsible for any credit and debit card fraud.”
He indicates details about free credit monitoring will be worked out later. “We will be in touch with those impacted by this issue soon on how and where to access the service,” he says.
Target says in the fine print on its website that the 10% discount excludes a whole bunch of cards, whether they are gift, telephone airtime, entertainment, iTunes or prepaid cards. It also doesn’t apply to purchase of liquor, Apple or Bose products, all video games and Playstation 4 or Xbox One consoles. Then there are services that do not fall under the special discount like Target Mobile, prescriptions, optical or Target Clinic. The offer cannot be combined with other storewide or department coupons.
Since Target didn’t have time to promote the special discount in its advertising, many customers may be surprised to find out they are getting it. Spokeswoman Molly Snyder says the word was getting out through store greeters who were informing customers as the flocked in Saturday.