Last week Target announced that a data breach had occurred between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 affecting roughly 40 million credit and debit card accounts, compromising customers' names, card information and security codes to hackers. New Jersey legislators at the federal and state level want answers.

Hackers Grab 40 Million Accounts From Target Stores (Joe Raedle, Getty Images)

"I want to know if the Federal Trade Commission, FTC, has the teeth to hold retailers who fail to protect their customers' personal information to account and if don't then I want them to tell us what additional legislative authority they need to help protect consumers," said U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ). "My goal is to make sure that consumer protection is as important to companies as their profits are."

Menendez has sent a letter to FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez asking for an update in the agency's efforts into the security breach at Target Corporation retail stores.

"Our country's consumers depend upon safe and secure transactions, and especially at this crucial time of year, our country's retailers must commit to fulfilling that expectation," Menendez wrote to Ramirez. "Unfortunately, these data breaches are becoming increasingly common."

As a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, and Finance, Menendez said he'll also talk to the panel leaders to see if hearings are necessary.

In the meantime, State Sen. Kevin O'Toole (R-Wayne) is asking acting New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman to launch an investigation into the theft of credit card numbers from millions of customers who shopped at Target.

"This is a serious criminal act and we have to be aggressive in not only tracking down those responsible but in working to ensure that New Jersey shoppers are protected," O'Toole said. "We shouldn't sit back and rely on action from Washington in a time when hardworking New Jerseyans face the prospect of having their accounts raided, identities stolen and credit ratings destroyed."

In O'Toole's opinion, the state needs to explore every option of helping those already impacted recover any financial loss accrued.

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