From November 27 to December 15, 40 million Americans were affected by a data breach at Target department stores, including stores in Montana.

The office of Montana Attorney General Tim Fox has issued a list of tips for consumers to help them protect against any other fraudulent charges on their credit or debit cards. Public Information Specialist John Barnes said on Thursday, December 26, that consumers need to know that Target has taken steps to protect them from the recent data breach.

"Consumers will not be  liable for any fraudulent charges that appear on their Target credit card accounts," Barnes said. "The other thing consumers need to do is carefully examine their credit card statements, or their bank statements if they used a debit card."

Barnes said Target has placed all the tools at their disposal to assist consumers who may have been damaged because of the data breach.

"Target is making available some free credit report monitoring to those whose credit was accessed," Barnes said. "They can also call Target's toll-free number at 1-866-852-8680 to utilize that information."

Barnes said consumers should also visit the Target website for any further information.

Public Information Specialist John Barnes

Below, see a list of tips from the Montana Office of Consumer Protection

The Montana Office of Consumer Protection offers these identity protection tips:

 •  Never give bank or credit card information over the phone unless you initiated the call and know the business to be reputable.

•  Never respond to e-mail or pop-up messages asking you to confirm or verify account information, even if it looks official. Instead, call the customer service number listed on the company’s billing statement to check an account.

•  Remove extra information from your checks. Information like your Social Security number and date of birth should be guarded. 

•  Shred or destroy any documents that contain personal identifying information before you dispose of them. Always shred prescriptions, receipts, bank deposit slips, pay stubs, expired credit cards, insurance policies and credit card applications.

•  Review your bank and credit card statements as soon as you get them.

•  Order a copy of your credit report once a year and check it carefully for fraudulent accounts. You are entitled to a free copy once every 12 months.

•  Read and understand privacy and security policies before providing any personal information on Internet sites. Shop online only if the site is secure.

•  Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts and avoid using easily available information such as your mother’s maiden name.

•  Secure personal information in your home.

•  Freeze your credit files with the three major credit bureaus so no one can access them without your permission.

For more information about identity theft, such as how to put a fraud alert on your file with the three major credit reporting agencies, email the Office of Consumer Protection at the Montana Department of Justice at, call 1-800-481-6896 or 406-444-4500, or visit  The OCP website also offers consumers who are confirmed identity theft victims information on how to get started with OCP’s ID Theft Passport program, which puts a security freeze on their file with the credit reporting agencies.