Target says data stolen from 70 million customers

Up to 70 million customers had their personal information stolen in a data breach at Target, the retailer said Friday.

Target announced last month that encrypted personal identification numbers were stolen for up to 40 million credit and debit cards in the breach. Now its investigation finds "that the stolen information includes names, mailing addresses, phone numbers or email addresses for up to 70 million individuals."

"I know that it is frustrating for our guests to learn that this information was taken and we are truly sorry they are having to endure this," Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in a release.

Along with the encrypted PIN data, Target previously said that data thieves stole customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the embedded code on the magnetic strip on the back of cards used at Target between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.

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To give "peace of mind," the Minneapolis-based retailer will offer free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to all its customers, with an opportunity to enroll over the next three months.

The most recent announcement comes amid news of an unsuccessful holiday season for retailers and follows other disappointments at Target. Target lowered its fourth quarter guidance Friday, expecting a comparable store sales decline of 2.5%. It previously said sales would be flat.

Target also revealed at the end of December that some gift cards sold during the holidays weren't fully activated, but that it would still honor the faulty cards. Less than 0.1% of gift cards sold during the holiday season were affected.

The retailer will close eight stores in May. The stores are in West Dundee, Ill.; Las Vegas, Nev.; North Las Vegas, Nev.; Duluth, Ga.; Memphis, Tenn.; Orange Park, Fla.; Middletown, Ohio; and Trotwood, Ohio.

Sears and Gap also did worse than expected on crucial holiday sales, according to quarter-to-date updated forecasts both companies gave Thursday. Sears Holding Corp., which owns Kmart, reported that same-store sales for the holiday season are down 7.4% compared to a year ago. Gap said sales for December were flat compared to a 5% jump last year.

Was your data stolen? Email to share your experience.

Contributing: Kevin McCoy


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