By now, you’ve likely heard Target’s security breach may have affected up to 70 million of its customers. The Minneapolis retailer said that the data crooks may have shoppers’ names, payment card numbers, expiration dates and three-digit security codes at their disposal. More recently, it was discovered that upscale retailer Neiman Marcus experienced a breach, as well.
Whether you suspect your information was breached or not, it’s always wise to keep an eye out for fraudulent activity on all your accounts by monitoring your credit card and bank transactions regularly. Watch for any suspicious purchases, small or large, and other activity you did not authorize.
If you do see signs of a breach, the following steps are suggested:
- Immediately report any signs of fraud or suspicious activity to your financial institution. You may also report it to the Federal Trade Commission either online or by calling 877.438.4338.
- If your account has been compromised, place a fraud alert on your credit report. The alert is free and active for 90 days. Taking this step makes it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name by ensuring that any company must verify your identity before issuing credit. You can renew the alert after the initial 90 days.
- You can also place a security freeze on your credit report. This would prohibit a credit reporting agency from releasing information without your prior consent.
Not only should you watch out for evidence of fraudulent activity, you also need to be aware of scammers trying to take advantage of those who are concerned about their financial security. Always remember:
- Never share personal or financial information with anyone over the phone, email or text. Your bank or credit card holder will not ask you for your account information, social security number or other personal information.
- Delete texts and emails immediately from numbers or names you do not recognize.
- Be vigilant of emails asking for information or for you to click to a site. Always open a new window and key in your bank or credit card url rather than clicking on a link in an email, which could direct you to a fake domain resembling your bank’s site.
- Assert caution with phone calls from your bank or credit card holder. Rather than give any information to people who call you, hang up and call your bank or the number on your credit card directly.
Security breaches and hacking are going to continue to occur in our digital world, making it important to remain vigilant in guarding your personal information and monitoring your financial accounts at all times.