Department store, Target, has been having a pretty rough 2014 to date. Soon after having to report that millions of customers’ data may have been put at risk, the company had to come back recently and admit that the breach may have impacted tens of millions more than originally thought.
Now, despite earlier assurances otherwise, experts are saying millions of Target customers have become vulnerable to identity theft. Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations, said the one-two punch of negative information could have a lasting impact on the number two retailer in the nation.
Initially, when the breach was announced on December 19, Target said about 40 million debit card accounts had been affected. Customers still shopped at the retailer through the holidays, but there was definite trepidation. Now, Torossian said, the company faces a haymaker of a negative PR punch.
Not only do they have to get back out there and reassure the public, they have to start the conversation admitting that the breach was nearly twice as bad as initially believed.
Worse, when the final tally is delivered, Target might be stigmatized as being the company at the center of the “largest data breach on record for any retailer.” Which is a brutal designation in the bloodsport that is big box discount retail.
The worst sting for the retailer is that, just before the latest announcement, Target announced its sales had started to recover from the PR crisis. Many in the financial world expect this “black cloud” to linger for several quarters this year and New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is participating in the investigation, called the latest release, “very troubling.”
Target needs to get out ahead of this, and do all they can to make it as easy as possible for customers to regain consumer confidence.