How to Find Out if Your Credit Card Was Hacked (And What to Do About It)
Target just confirmed a credit and debit card hack that could potentially affect up to 40 million customers who shopped in its brick-and-mortar stores between Black Friday (Nov. 27) to Dec. 15. Here's how to find out if your card was affected.
Such security breaches are all but ubiquitous these days. In 2007, retailer TJX learned that thieves had hacked into the store's wireless networks to gain entry into the company's Massachusetts systems, which held data related to payment information for its stores across the country. In 2012, credit card processor Global Payments divulged that it had suffered a widespread breach, in which infiltrators stole 1.5 million credit card numbers from hundreds of card issuers worldwide. And this latest incident at Target is notable because of the extent of the data taken from each card—data that included the customer's name, credit or debit card number, the expiration date, and the CVV (or the security code on the back of the card).
So what should you do to find out if your account was compromised? Here are a few tips on the steps you should take to keep your money safe, whether for this occasion or for cases of fraud that you may face in the future.
Check Your Statement
It's the easiest thing you can do, and the very first action you should take: Scrutinize your statement for charges you don't recognize. These don't have to be massive charges, either. Hackers will often test the waters with micropayments first, amounting to a few dollars or even a few cents. Then, when it seems like the coast is clear, they'll go for a big-ticket purchase.
Check Your Credit Report
You can check your credit report for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. and Target itself issued a statement recommending that you check your credit report periodically from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). Additionally, federal law requires these three bureaus to give you a free credit report if your account information has been stolen. If you find an error or
fraudulent activity, you can go to the reporting institution and fix it. If there's evidence that intruders may have stolen your Social Security number, request a security freeze on your files. At the very least, put a fraud alert on your credit reports.
Call Your Credit Card Issuer and the Compromised Retailer
Target has said that it alerted financial institutions after the breach was confirmed, and in an ideal world, that would mean you'd hear from your bank if your card had been compromised. But there's no harm in also calling up your financial institution to let them know you've shopped at Target and to see what they're doing about the situation. At minimum you can inquire about the policies they have in place if a data breach occurs. Most credit card companies, for one, offer fraud monitoring services for free—and if you do incur a fraudulent charge, you won't be held liable for it. (It's usually the card issuer or the merchant who's responsible for the cost.)
In this case, Target has also set up a dedicated phone line—866-852-8680—so that customers can call in about suspicious activity on their accounts.
Cancel Your Card
If the worst has happened and your card information has been stolen, canceling your card can stop the tide of fake charges from continuing to roll in. Even if you're not liable, having your card declined or getting calls from debt collectors can be a hassle.
Change Your PIN
You should always make sure you have a strong PIN (i.e. not your birthday) and account password, but if that information has already been compromised, changing it to a new one—with good security measures in place —could forestall more loss.
Sign Up for a Fraud-Monitoring Service
Some ID-theft-monitoring services are paid, which you can consider, but—as previously mentioned—your own provider will typically offer one for free and can be just as dependable. If there's any suspicious behavior, you'll get notifications by text or a call from the institution, or they might preemptively put a freeze on your account.Source: www.popularmechanics.com