Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- If you have headed to a Target store in recent weeks you may want to keep tabs on your credit and debit card statements.
The retailer announced it was hit by hackers impacting about 40 million people who visited stores throughout the nation.
The breach affects shoppers who visited the stores between November 27 and December 15.
The hackers gained access to customers' names, credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates, and the three-digit security code found of the back of cards.
Target Released a Statement saying "Your trust is a top priority for Target, and we deeply regret the inconvenience this may cause. The privacy and protection of our guests' information is a matter we take very seriously and we have worked swiftly to resolve the incident."
University of South Carolina Assistant Professor Mark Harris with the school's Integrated Information Technology Department, says announcements of hackings have become more common.
"It does not surprise me at all that this occurred. It's happening more and more," said Harris. "There's a lot of money in hacking these days, so groups of hackers or gangs of hackers will spend months and months trying to infiltrate a business and so expertise on the hacking side has grown astronomically. They're experts."
Harris says Target's hacking is different from what happened with South Carolina's Department of Revenue, where the breach left the possibility of having your identity stolen. In Target's case he says they have essentially stolen your credit card.
"Basically, all the information that's on the back of your card on that magnetic strip is what was taken, so your social security number was not taken, but the credit card information was," said Harris.
Unfortunately, he says he expects announcements of hackings like this to continue, at least until the number of those fighting back can grow.
"I foresee this getting worse as time goes, because right now there's a cyber security technology deficit as far as the professional who protect businesses. There's a 20 year deficit in getting new people to fill these positions," said Harris.
If you shopped at Target during the impacted dates using your credit or debit cards, Harris suggests you monitor your statements for unauthorized purchases.
Target says it is working with a forensics firm to find out what happened and how they can prevent this from happening again.