TARGET BREACH: 50,000 card numbers from Minn. for sale - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

TARGET BREACH: 50,000 card numbers from Minn. for sale

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

It's been months since hackers stole the credit and debit card information of millions of Target customers, but the effects are far from over. In fact, thousands of Minnesota credit card numbers are currently for sale.

The massive digital heist that occurred on Black Friday and through Dec. 15 may seem like so long ago that victims could assume they're in the clear -- but a local cyber security expert says that couldn't be further from the case.

When the theft occurred, security experts warned shoppers that the repercussions could be felt for years -- and Mark Lanterman, CEO of Computer Forensic Services, tells Fox 9 News that warning is right on target.

"Hackers need to make money, and the way they do it is by selling information," he explained.

Lanterman said a Russian hacker who goes by the handle Rescator is believed to be behind the malware used in the data breach, and when Lanterman checked Rescator's website earlier this week, he found at least 50,000 credit card numbers stolen from Minnesotans were up for sale -- including 5,000 from Minnetonka alone.

"These are rolling productions," Lanterman said. "Think of it like this: Let's say if Rescator has 70 million credit cards to sell, he may only put 100,000 up for sale in a batch and when that diminishes to 50,000 maybe, he'll replenish that."

In the wake of the breach, Target told customers not to cancel their credit cards during the busy holiday shopping season and urged them to monitor their accounts for a year -- but Lanterman said that advice just gives hackers time for victims to let their guard down.

"Target's advice not to cancel the cards actually helped the hackers because once you cancel the cards, the info is worthless," Lanterman said.

According to Lanterman, that's just one more way that Target's handling of the situation has missed the mark.

"If you shopped at Target during that period in November and December, why risk it?" he asked. "Cancel your card and request a new number."

Lanterman added that criminals often buy stolen credit card numbers from their own area so they won't set off fraud alerts when using the cards.

So far, another cyber security expert has estimated that up to 3 million of the 40 million credit card numbers stolen have already been successfully sold on the black market and used for fraud.

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