3 Ways Target Corp can Win Back Customer Trust After Data Breach

Target store in the Buckhead District of Atlanta, Georgia. Image credit via Otisfrog

Still reeling from its 2013 end-of-year data breaches, Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) is busy reassuring shareholders, investors and even congress that it has everything under control but what about the customers including those affected by the data breaches? Besides months away, “better” anti-fraud technology and credit monitoring services, has Target replaced any of its policies that got it into this mess in the first place?

Here are three ways Target can make a bad situation better.

Target, your local DMV?

Target has implemented a policy where customers actually have to show a form of ID like a driver’s license in order to return merchandise, even if you have the items tags (for products only Target would sell) to “prove your case”. Whether it’s that Christmas sweater you didn’t want, a $20 T-shirt, or that entertainment system that stopped working a week later, a Target employee will be sure to demand your ID and enter it into their computer system before -- you as a customer -- become worthy of returning one of their defective products.

We’re not really sure what Target is doing with your driver’s license information or why they need it; because they didn’t in the past. It’s a good guess that this information was stolen during the data breach as well.

Other stores that implement this policy include Best Buy Co., Inc (NYSE:BBY) and The TJX Companies, Inc (NYSE:TJX) which is the parent company of brands like Marshalls and TJ Max. In 2007 The TJX Companies had its own data breach that affected 45.7 million customers. Stolen information included customer driver’s licenses and social security data.

A RED Card for all

Target already offers two kinds of RED Cards and there is now room for a third. A reloadable “Gift Card” that customers can add money to at the register via cash. The cards would be given free and require no customer information to register. It would be the same as accepting cash. This system is open to many possibilities including reward points for customers but not the theft of their personal information.

Less Means Losing Less

The less data-hoarding from Target the less it has to worry about security breaches and theft of customer information. It’s that simple. Target can simply set policies that allow the convenience and peace of mind for not only its customers but Target as well. Instead of focusing on the bottom line, Target got caught up in the world of big-data and data mining, they forgot their business is about selling merchandise and keeping customers happy. Rather than finding the “Holy Grail” in customer data, Target’s data-breach is now estimated to cost the company between $400 million and $1 billion.

Update: You can return products to Target with out showing an ID but only if you have an acceptable receipt

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