Impact of Target data breach trickles down to small businesses

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A massive holiday season data breach at Target, the nation's largest retailer, has created economic consequences for the company and its customers since news of it first broke. But as the ripples from the massive data theft continue to expand, there is a new set of victims: small business owners.

Some small businesses that use customer credit card information for direct billing are finding themselves unable to collect payment from customers with new or no credit cards after their payment methods on file were cut off to prevent financial fraud stemming from the Target breach.

One such business, Hangers Cleaning in South Kansas City, said it is owed thousands of dollars from customers whom it normally bills directly. The company's director of operations said on Thursday that she's seen three times as many cancelled or rejected credit cards this month as she might normally.

"I'm running and running and running all these cards and I have a big stack of them to go through," Keri Abell said. "I might have said ‘I hate Target.' I love Target, but I said I hate Target as I was going through...several times."

Abell said in addition to the letters she was sending out on Thursday, she had also taken to social media to urge customers of her and other small businesses to update the credit card information they have on file.

"Clearly there's a ripple effect. That affects the small business," Abell said. "We rely on cash flow, and a big delay in thousands of dollars hits us."

Abell said that although some remember to call the utility company like KCP&L, they don't think of the dry cleaner right off the top of their head.

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