Stung by credit card fraud

Ashley Fitzpatrick
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

N.L. man’s card used illegally at Target store in Quebec

When Sean Callahan of St. John’s was told Friday by a CIBC representative his CIBC Mastercard was used in Saint-Laurent, Que., he was surprised. He has never been there.

He was further surprised to discover more than $5,000 in fraudulent charges to his credit card account — nine separate charges at a single Target store in one day.

He had contacted the credit company and bank a day earlier, after his card was unexpectedly declined in western Newfoundland during a mini-vacation with family — at a golf course and a gas station. He had not had his card declined before.

“(Friday) morning they called me back to say the reason for the call was there had been a ‘security breach.’ Those were her two words,” he told The Telegram. “They’re admitting to a security breach where the card was used (Thursday) at Target.”

The name of the retailer and the words “security breach” set off alarm bells with Callahan, who recalled the massive theft of Target customer data in late 2013, involving credit- and debit-card information.

His card was used by a family member at a Target store in St. John’s Monday, July 7, just three days before the fraudulent charges in Quebec. He is afraid it was not a coincidence and wants to make other consumers aware of his case. “Obviously this thing hasn’t been fixed or there’s a whole new security breach,” he said.

The information theft that occurred in the U.S. in 2013 did not involve Target stores in Canada.

The breach involved data from customers of U.S. Target, between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, 2013. About 40 million credit and debit card accounts were involved. In addition, personal information — names, emails, phone numbers — for 70 million customers was stolen. Some of the personal information was for the same customers who had lost account data.

Some Canadians were notified in January, through an email from Target, that their personal information was potentially stolen in the data theft. Canadians are estimated to account for less than one per cent of victims in that case, The Canadian Press has reported.

“The breach only impacted payment cards that were used in our U.S. stores. There continues to be no impact to any Canadian Target stores,” reiterated Molly Snyder, a public relations manager for Target based in Minneapolis, Minn., who responded Monday to questions via email.

Target has offered free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to individuals who shopped in the company’s U.S. stores at the time of the 2013 data breach. An enrolment period for that program ended April 30.

The company continues to see low levels of fraud, Snyder said.

“We encourage our guests to monitor their accounts and promptly report any suspicious activity to their issuing bank.”

In Callahan’s case, CIBC and not Mastercard was the issuer of the credit card. And Lauren Mostowyk, a spokeswoman for Mastercard, responded almost immediately to a message inquiring about the fraud case.

“We can’t comment on individual investigations, and at this point this is an individual investigation,” she said, but she added Mastercard does alert card issuers in a case of a suspected data breach or fraud.

When a credit card purchase is made at a store, she explained, the purchase information is sent through an acquirer (the terminal) to the card issuer, the card issuer approves or declines the transaction and the information is sent back to the starting point. The network is Mastercard’s, which is responsible for the financial transaction, she said.

Many frauds occur using information obtained before a credit-card transaction is started (say, by conning the card holder) or using information-capturing devices at the terminal, before information hits the network and is moved between the terminal and the credit card issuer. It is why credit companies are encouraging use of chip and personal identification number (PIN) cards, as opposed to cards swiped at a terminal machine.

“That comes with an entirely new set of security benefits,” Mostowyk said.

She said a wider use of chip and PIN cards in Canada has been a protection for consumers here over those in the U.S.

But Callahan’s account was compromised, however it was done, and his reaction reflects the effect of a large data breach on customer confidence and consumer trust in a retailer.

He said he did not report his case directly to the police, as CIBC told him it is being investigated.

While dealing with the headache of being unable to use his credit card, he was able to arrange for a new card to be sent to him. But he recommends people within the province be aware of the potential for their own accounts to fall to a fraud.

“My experience is very real,” he said.



Organizations: Mastercard, The Telegram, U.S. Target CIBC Canadian Press Canadian Target

Geographic location: Quebec, U.S., Newfoundland Canada.The Minneapolis, Minn. Canada

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Baffled
    July 18, 2014 - 12:28

    I think this is a deeper problem than we can even imagine. My daughters card was used on 7/16 for $1200 in charges ($50 each) Target charges in Mount Vernon. Never been there. But what's really crazy is that this was a temporary card issued by the bank and never used. Just got in 2 days before. The bank set it up on-line for her at their branch. She never entered it into her phone, computer or swiped it. They had closed her old account because of fraud and re-issued everything. How did they get it?? It was a Citibank account.

  • cardguy
    July 16, 2014 - 17:25

    Setup a message alert with your bank. The alert tracks transactions on your card and sends you an email or text messages when your card is used.

  • Charlotte Wormald
    July 16, 2014 - 13:32

    Target Credit Card breach- the international version! On Friday evening 4 July 2014, a credit card linked to my South African issued card was stolen in London. The card was stopped on Saturday as soon as disappearance was noticed but not before it had been used for a bit of global shopping. Where? At Target Canada...the preferred store of international credit card fraudsters. I can only imagine the disappointment when they found out that the buying power of a South African credit card is substantially weaker than most major currencies. Unlike the 10 transactions on Sean Callahan's account, it took only two to reach my credit limit. More seriously, it's time for Target Canada and US to review their credit card security systems.