NEW YORK Angry consumers vented their frustration and outrage over the Target credit card breach on Facebook and Twitter and filed lawsuits against the retailer, alleging the store "failed to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures" when credit and debit card data for about 40 million customers was taken. Target said on Dec. 19 that approximately 40 million credit and debit card accounts "may have been impacted" after being used to pay for purchases at its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 . Three class-action lawsuits have been filed in the wake of the theft of data, and more than $5 million in damages is being sought in the cases, two of which were filed in California and one in Oregon . The Attorney General in at least four states -- Connecticut , Massachusetts , New York and South Dakota have asked Target for information about the breach. Meanwhile, millions of the card accounts stolen have begun showing up for sale on the black market, says the security reporter who initially broke the news about the breach. "Credit and debit card accounts stolen in (the Target breach) ... have been flooding underground black markets in recent weeks, selling in batches of one million cards and going for anywhere from $20 to more than $100 per card," writes Brian Krebs on his KrebsOnSecurity.com site. Banks like Chase and Citibank could hit Target to help pay for the cost of cleaning up the mess of the retailer's recent loss of card information to hackers. "Given the magnitude of the breach and what we've seen in the past, banks are likely to bring action," said information security expert Randy Sabett , an attorney at ZwillGen. Chase and Citi moved over the weekend to impose limits on cards that were affected; Chase even reopened a third of its branches on Sunday to help issue new cards and allow for large withdrawals. It's not clear who will pay for potential fraudulent charges on the card numbers obtained by hackers, which are currently for sale on the black market. Typically, the banks that issue credit cards like Chase and Citi are reimbursed by merchantsvia credit card companies like Visa and MasterCardwhere a fraudulent purchase is made online or over the phone. But banks themselves are often on the hook if the purchase is made in person at a store. The central issue will be Target's potential negligence. Deciding to what extent the company is responsible will involve teams of forensic investigators and lawyers. Target will likely say it had the best security system possible and was compliant with industry standards, but that the hackers were just too sophisticated. Banks and credit card companies will likely argue that Target's data security was insufficient. The thieves managed to grab key details for so many cards by getting malware on to the computer systems at the checkout desks in almost 1,800 Target stores in the US. It is still not clear how the hackers managed to get their malware on to the systems. The fraudsters had access to card data read at the tills for almost three weeks, said Target in a statement released after the attack. Reuters reported that other US banks are also believed to be putting stringent precautions in place that would help to spot if cards were being used fraudulently. In addition, Target said it would offer free credit monitoring for customers affected by fraud. Also investigating the Target breach -- the second-largest in U.S. history being a 2005 case involving retailer TJX -- is the Secret Service. Target is based in Minneapolis and has almost 1,800 stores in the United States and 124 in Canada , according to its website. Target is directing customers to its website and a toll-free phone number for more information about the breach. The breach could also lead to smarter, more hacker-resistant smart cards.
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