Millions of Target shoppers face new debit card limits

NEW YORK Sat Dec 21, 2013 7:34pm EST

People shop at a Target store during Black Friday sales in the Brooklyn borough of New York, in this November 29, 2013, file photo. REUTERS/Eric Thayer/File

People shop at a Target store during Black Friday sales in the Brooklyn borough of New York, in this November 29, 2013, file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer/File

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - At least 2 million shoppers who used bank debit cards at Target Corp (TGT.N) stores during its recent data breach are facing lower limits on how much cash they can take out of teller machines and spend at stores.

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) said on Saturday it is notifying customers who used Chase brand debit cards at Target from November 27 through December 15 that they are now limited to $100 a day of cash withdrawals and $300 a day of purchases with their cards.

The new limit effects roughly 2 million accounts, or 10 percent of Chase debit cards, according to a spokeswoman for Chase, the consumer banking business of JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank by assets.

Chase said it acted as a precaution to prevent criminals from taking money from customer accounts. Chase and other banks say they will cover unauthorized transactions that customers report.

"Banks are putting various precautions in place," Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said by email, declining to be specific about what the banks are doing.

Representatives for other major banks, including Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) and Citigroup Inc (C.N), told Reuters on Saturday that their institutions take steps to protect accounts, but none described specific actions so broadly limiting to cardholders as those of Chase.

Target's Snyder said that for the debit card it issues and calls Redcard, the company has activated a "deeper fraud monitoring protocol." She did not describe the new steps.

Chase said in its notice to customers that it realized its move "could not have happened at a more inconvenient time with the holiday season upon us."

At Chase, the usual debit card daily limits are $200 to $500 for cash withdrawals and $500 for purchases, according to a bank spokeswoman.

"It seems like the banks are the 'Grinch who stole Christmas,'" said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, a consumer advocacy group based in Los Angeles. "It is Target's fault, but children across America are going to bear the price ... The banks are protecting themselves."

Chase spelled out the new limits in an email to customers with the subject line: "Unfortunately, your debit card is at risk by the breach at Target stores."

Target said on Thursday that computer hackers had stolen data from as many as 40 million credit and debit cards of shoppers who visited its stores during the first three weeks of the holiday season.

Chase said in the letter that it plans to reissue affected debit cards over the coming weeks and in the meantime said employees at its 5,600 branches would help those who need more cash. Many branches will stay open late if needed, the letter said.

Debit cards, unlike credit cards, typically require customers to enter personal identification numbers when they make purchases at store check-out counters. Initial reports of Target's security breach said data may have been taken through devices at its counters.

Debit cards are used to spend money that has been deposited in checking and other demand accounts at banks.

(Reporting by David Henry in New York; Additional reporting by Jim Finkle and Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by Gunna Dickson and Bill Trott)

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Comments (4)
chekovmerlin wrote:
Shame on Target for passing the buck to the banks and “We the people. . .” Shame on TARGET for making life miserable for over 2 million adults and untold children who are the offspring of these 2 million. SHAME on TARGET for being so blase’ about this. What’s the answer. Simple. With hold money in shopping. Don’t shop at TARGET. Tell you friends and family not to shop at TARGET. Hurt them like they are hurt us. In the pocket.

Dec 21, 2013 9:02pm EST  --  Report as abuse
loraw wrote:
One can always travel to the bank and physically withdraw some cash if all else fails. Remember doing that?

Dec 21, 2013 10:58pm EST  --  Report as abuse
thoughtless wrote:
I am one of the 40 million Target customers with their card stolen. I was at BestBuy yesterday when my card was declined (a little embarrassing) and after calling my bank, they are expediting a replacement.

With Christmas around the corner it is certainly inconvenient, but the fault lies with the criminals who stole the data, not Target and not the banks. Target is a victim like me. I will not be out any money, and Target and the banks will harden their systems to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Lighten up. Maybe this is a good time to remember Christmas is about spending time with friends and family, and not just a shopping week with a deeper discount.

Dec 22, 2013 12:35am EST  --  Report as abuse
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