NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Target announced Friday that debit-card PIN numbers were in fact among the financial information stolen from millions of customers who shopped at the retailer earlier this month.
Target had previously claimed that its customers' PIN information had not been breached.
The retailer said the stolen PIN numbers were encrypted, which strongly reduces risk to customers. The company added that it doesn't have access to nor does it store the encryption key within its system, and the PIN information can only be decrypted when it is received by the retailer's external, independent payment processor.
In addition to the encrypted PINs, customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the embedded code on the magnetic strip on back of the cards were stolen from about 40 million credit and debit cards used at Target between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.
The breach is considered the second-largest theft of card accounts in U.S. history, according to security experts.
TJX Cos., which runs stores such as T.J. Maxx and Marshall's, had a breach that began in July 2005 that exposed at least 45.7 million credit and debit cards to possible fraud.
The breach wasn't detected until December 2006. In June 2009 TJX agreed to pay $9.75 million in a settlement with multiple states related to the massive data theft but stressed at the time that it firmly believed it did not violate any consumer protection or data security laws.
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