The massive Target data breach is, as you can imagine, big news from coast to coast. In the Los Angeles Times, Ricardo Lopez writes: “The Minneapolis retailer said the breach — which occurred between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 — may mean that criminals now have shoppers’ names, payment card numbers, expiration dates and three-digit security codes at their disposal. … If you are among those who shopped at Target during the affected time period, here are five things you can do to protect yourself. … The first one is obvious: Check your credit card or bank statement, if you used a debit card, for any fraudulent activity. Look for any suspicious purchases — small or large — and other activity that you did not authorize. …”
At Forbes, Paula Rosenblum writes: “[T]he attack on Target TGT -2.16% over the Black Friday holiday weekend may well be one of the most sophisticated and coordinated ever. The technology used by the thieves is not new, but executing the plan across enough stores to grab 40 million accounts required almost military precision. According to published reports, the thieves captured magnetic stripe data from customers swiping their cards to complete their purchases. The technique is called ‘skimming’ and is accomplished by thieves adding a small chip into the credit card readers typically attached to cash registers. Because the chip is right at the device, there’s no need to infiltrate the company’s systems. The chip grabs the information right up front. … When the massive TJX data breach occurred in 2007, authorities discovered the cards had been used to buy gift cards from Walmart and other retailers. This reduces the number of times the credit card has to be used, reducing the thieves’ exposure to getting caught.”
The Chicago Tribune writes: “It is not yet clear how the attackers were able to compromise point-of-sales terminals at so many Target stores. ‘It is very clear it is a sophisticated crime,’ [spokeswoman Molly] Snyder said. Target urged any customers who suspect they are affected by the data breach to call 866-852-8680. … MasterCard and Visa officials had declined to comment late on Wednesday, after news of the breach surfaced. An American Express spokeswoman said the company was aware of the incident and was putting fraud controls in place.” So who exactly is liable if thieves drain your checking account via a debit card?
And now … it’s down … The Strib’s Jim Buchta reports: “Home sales in Minnesota and across the country posted bigger than expected declines last month, according to two reports released this morning. In Minnesota, closings were down 9 percent compared with last year, according to the Minnesota Assocation of Realtors, and the National Association of Realtors said that seasonally adjusted sales across the country fell 4.3 percent compared with the previous month. Despite those declines, the median sale price of all closings during the month increased 9.7 percent in Minnesota and 9.4 percent nationwide.”
If you’re thinking of contracting an infectious disease, stay out of North Dakota. Charly Haley of the Grand Forks Herald says: “When it comes to infectious diseases, North Dakota and Minnesota vary in preparedness in the case of an outbreak, a new study shows. In a report released Tuesday by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, North Dakota was ranked in the bottom half of outbreak-ready states and Minnesota ranked in the top half. Out of the 10 ‘key indicators’ used to score states, North Dakota met four and Minnesota met seven. The indicators ranged from not decreasing public health funding, to having certain vaccines, to having labs prepared for increased testing in the instance of a disease outbreak.”
We know the Vikings players regularly lead the league in DUIs and other police interaction. But when Liz Collin of WCCO-TV checked police records on fans’ misbehavior … “While most eyes are on the field during a game, WCCO found that police have plenty to do that has nothing to do with football. From fights in the stands to public intoxication, we took a look at the police reports. When WCCO compared the numbers to other stadiums across the country, we found some big surprises. … WCCO obtained police reports from the past five Vikings seasons at the dome. While nothing happened as tragic as what has outside other stadiums this season there were still problems: fights between fans and with police officers. People caught doing drugs and many fans so drunk they were tossed out of the game. In five seasons, police made 184 reports and 33 arrests. The Vikings say those numbers are among the lowest in the league.”
The governor has courted and wooed a Canadian tech company to town … The AP writes: “A Canadian company that makes sophisticated heating and ventilation systems will locate a research facility in a Twin Cities suburb. A top executive from Price Industries joined Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday in announcing the project, which grew out of a personal courtship by the governor and a $700,000 state grant toward the facility’s construction. The Winnipeg-based company will put 40 jobs with average pay of $80,000 apiece in Maple Grove.”
Please tell me this is a sick joke … Madeleine Baran of MPR reports: “When beloved priest Harry Walsh retired two years ago, parishioners of St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Monticello, Minn., decorated a VFW hall with paper shamrocks and musical notes to say goodbye. … Walsh, then 77, had served as the parish’s music minister for nearly a decade. … But Walsh had a secret. He’d been accused of sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl and 12-year-old altar boy decades earlier, according to church documents obtained by MPR News, and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis contributed to a financial settlement for the girl. Nonetheless, archbishops Harry Flynn and John Nienstedt allowed him to continue working in parishes until the fall of 2011. … Today Walsh teaches sex education to troubled teenagers and vulnerable adults in Wright County, an hour west of the Twin Cities.” It took some effort to “overlook” that one.