Shoppers Worry Over Authenticity of Target E-Mails

An e-mail sent to the roughly 70 million Target customers who may have been affected by a pre-Christmas data breach is causing panic among those who fear it could be an attempt to victimize them again.

Target says the email, which offers free credit monitoring services to potential victims of the breach, is legitimate. But the company has identified a handful of scammers who are trying to take advantage of the public's fear and confusion.

Shawn Blakeman, 42, of Raleigh, N.C., received Target's email Friday morning, but he didn't click on the link it contained "just in case it was some kind of a Web site that I couldn't get out of or had a hidden virus," he says.

Consumers have been on edge since news of the data breach broke last month. And they've been warned to be on alert for possible follow-up attacks that could come in the form of phishing emails, electronic messages designed to implant malicious software on their computers or draw them to Web sites that prompt them to enter personal information.

So when Target's email began circulating earlier this week, many recipients questioned its authenticity. The email was especially suspicious to people who say they haven't set foot in a Target store in years.

Jim Reid, 60, of Minneapolis says he was a little nervous about clicking on the link in the email and he questioned whether it was a good idea to send Target even more personal information when they were unable to protect it in the first place.

"There's too much uncertainty," Reid says. "They keep changing what they're saying about how many people were affected, about what kinds of information were stolen. It's obvious that they really don't know."

According to Target, hackers stole data related to 40 million credit and debit card accounts and also pilfered personal...

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