Target's credit card security breach affecting 40 million accounts doesn't bode well for the retailer's standing with consumers with what many call the biggest shopping day of the holiday season coming up on Saturday. The company's reputation among shoppers will likely be negatively impacted, putting the $73 billion Minneapolis-based retailer on the offensive with its loyal shoppers.
"There's a level of trust that's diminished and there is perhaps a loss of goodwill," said Daren Orzechowski, a partner at law firm White & Case in New York, who focuses on information technology legal matters, including privacy. The breach "could affect people who choose not to go to those [Target] stores versus a competitor."
As a result, "the real risk, to me, in terms of financial loss is lost sales and lost customer loyalties, which can be sustained [over time]. Somebody can have [their credit card data] stolen and will never go shop there again," said Mr. Orzechowski. He added that most often data breaches are one-time events where data is captured and the hole is fixed, not a continuous open time frame like Target's 19-day window. Target said in a statement that accounts may have been impacted between Nov. 27 -- the day before Thanksgiving -- and Dec. 15.
"We wanted to move swiftly to address the issue. This is a very important holiday week but our focus is on the guests," said Dustee Jenkins, the Target spokeswoman. "We want to reassure people that they can shop at Target."