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WASHINGTON-- Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed Wednesday thatfederal authorities were investigating the data breach involving retailgiant Target.

"The Department of Justice takes seriously reportsof any data breach, particularly those involving personally identifiableor financial information, and looks into allegations that are broughtto its attention,'' Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"Whilewe generally do not discuss specific matters under investigation, I canconfirm the department is investigating the breach involving the U.S.retailer, Target. And we are committed to working to find not only theperpetrators of these sorts of data breaches - but also any individualsand groups who exploit that data via credit card fraud.''

Duringthe crucial holiday season, the retailer said that cyberthieves hacked40 million debit and credit card accounts, stealing encrypted PIN data,customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates andthe embedded code on the magnetic strip on the back of cards used atTarget between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.

In January, the retailerrevealed the hackers also stole additional information - includingnames, home addresses, email addresses and phone numbers - of about 70 million people.

The retailer says it is working with federal officials in the investigation of the data breach.

Minneapolis-based Target has apologized for the security breach and is offering one year of free credit monitoring to all customers, even those who were not affected by the data breach.

"Iknow that it is frustrating for our guests to learn that thisinformation was taken, and we are truly sorry they are having to endurethis," Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in a recent press release.