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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - A US Senator wants financial penalties in place for companies that don't protect customers from hacking.

The call for action comes from New Jersey's Sen. Bob Menendez in response to 40 million Target customers whose personal debit and credit card information might have been stolen by hackers.

On Thursday, Menendez stood outside of a Target store in Jersey City and asked the Federal Trade Commission whether it has the authority to levy fines on companies that fail to protect their customers' personal information.

If the FTC can't levy fines, Menendez plans to introduce his own legislation.

"It just seems to me that either the hackers were way ahead of the entire industry or the industry wasn't up to the standards that it should be," Menendez said.

A Target spokesperson says the company is "focused on partnering with the authorities who are investigating this crime against Target and our guests, and helping our guests understand what they need to know and what steps they can take."

The issue has raised a number of lawsuits and investigations, which also has some Minnesota politicians weighing in.

"I know how concerned people are about this data breach, and as a former prosecutor I think the major focus should be on determining who stole this information from Target and its customers so the thieves are punished and the victims can pursue justice. We also need to make sure that the technology we have to protect consumers' information is as sophisticated as the criminals who are trying to obtain it, and as a member of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees I will continue to push to strengthen data security," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar in a statement.

"This is a terrible situation and t?hose who have been victims of fraud or identity theft must be able to get back everything they've lost. Like all data breaches, this raises important questions about the responsibilities corporations have to protect consumer data and inform their customers when data have been compromised. Since I first learned of the breach, my office has been in touch with Target several times, and I will be closely watching this situation to see if any additional action is needed," said Sen. Al Franken in a statement.

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