Sample Security Awareness Message About Target and Other Retailer Hacks

To keep security awareness programs fresh and relevant, Secure Mentem believes that it is important to take advantage of current events that impact your employees. While any computer related attacks or losses are unfortunate, they provide opportunities to reach out and provide value to your company.

Given the recent attacks against Target, Neiman Marcus and other retailers, it is very likely that a significant number of your employees have been victimized. They need definitive guidance as to what they should do to protect themselves.

The following is a message that you can distribute to your employees through your own internal communications channels, such as email blasts, employee newsletters, or internal portals. Should you have any questions, feel free to contact us.


Message for Distribution

As many employees may have been impacted by the recent retailer hacks, we want to offer guidance as to what this may mean to you and what actions you might want to take.


What happened?

Criminals broke into the computer systems of Target, Neiman Marcus and other retailers, and were able to steal credit and debit card numbers, PIN numbers, and in some cases, addresses and other personal information.


How to tell if you are impacted

Retailers or your bank(s) are required to inform you if your account was compromised. It is possible that some retailers might not yet know they were hacked, so you should make sure that you monitor your accounts carefully for any unauthorized transactions.


What to do if you think your account was compromised

If you believe your account was compromised, you should take the following actions:

  • Contact your credit/debit card company immediately, cancel your cards, and ask for new account numbers
  • While talking to your credit/debit card company, ask about putting a “Credit Freeze” on your identity. If they cannot help you, contact a credit reporting agency about initiating a Credit Freeze
  • Request copies of your credit reports to look for unauthorized attempts to open up new accounts–you are entitled to one from the three major credit report agencies for free per year
  • Look for unauthorized activity on all credit and debit card accounts

The compromised retailer will likely offer you one year of free credit monitoring. While this can be useful, you may already have such a service through your home insurance. Ask if the credit monitoring automatically renews after the initial year is up, as you will incur a charge if you do not cancel the service. Also be aware that credit monitoring is not as strong as a credit freeze, which is free and stays on your record for 7 years. A credit freeze requires companies to verify your identity before issuing new credit accounts in your name.

If you have any questions, please contact the information security team at