Target Breach Costs Mounting for Northwest Credit Unions

The massive Target breach has already cost Northwest credit unions an estimated $1.3 million, as they work fast and furiously to protect their 4.5 million consumer members.

“A survey of Oregon and Washington credit unions finds potential for over 258,000 of our members’ credit and debit cards to have been impacted, so our credit unions worked quickly to prevent fraud against their members,” said Lynn Heider, vice president of public relations and communications for the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA). “Since news of the breach came to our attention in December, Northwest credit unions have done everything they can to help their members, including reissuing cards to prevent fraud, and investing in extra staff hours to answer members’ calls.”

Target confirmed the breach affected the credit and debit cards of up to 110 million consumers. In addition, up to 70 million consumers’ names, home and email addresses, and phone numbers were also compromised.

“Consumers who monitor their card activity and report suspicious purchases to their financial institutions are generally not liable for the expense of the fraud,” Heider said, “but because credit unions are cooperatives, the cost of these breaches could ultimately be shouldered by the members.”

For that reason, the NWCUA is encouraging its member credit unions to report all cost data to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). The data will be useful as the credit union movement pushes for retailer accountability in legislatures and courts. The survey indicates thus far, Oregon and Washington credit unions have incurred expenses of about $5.10 for each card being reissued, totaling over $1.3 million in the region. Nationally, CUNA estimates, credit unions have incurred up to $30 million in expenses. The results don’t include the cost of any fraud losses which may occur later, and not all credit unions have reported their expenses yet.

“Northwest credit unions are taking precautions to prevent fraud against their members and we will vigorously pursue any possible recourse in their behalf,” said Heider.