It is hard to miss the headlines these days. Large companies, like Target and Nieman Marcus, have released warnings that their systems have been breached and customers’ credit card information have been compromised. It is more and more common for people to pay with credit cards instead of carrying cash, so the impact of such breaches is often far reaching. How do you protect yourself? Do you know what to do when your credit card is compromised? Below are some helpful tips.
1. Request New Credit Cards
Sometimes, the only information stolen in a breach are the credit card numbers. If this is the case, a new card will prevent thieves from using the stolen information to post charges to your account. Contact your credit card company right away. They are normally able to issue a new card within just a few days.
2. Review Statements Carefully
Make sure that every charge on your credit card was made by you. Sign up for an online account instead of waiting for your statement to arrive in the mail. This allows you to catch any errors more quickly. If you notice anything odd, report it to your credit card company immediately.
3. Monitor Credit Report
In certain breaches, personal information may be at risk (instead of just credit card numbers). This can be used to steal your identity and to apply for new credit cards or loans in your name. Reviewing your credit report will alert you to any strange activity. Most credit services, such as CreditKarma.com, offer monitoring services. This alerts you when your credit score is pulled for any reason, when new accounts are created, etc. If you receive an alert for something that you did not initiate, that may be your first clue to a much larger problem.
4. Monitor Information for Extended Periods of Time
Credit card and personal information may not necessarily be used immediately by thieves. Especially in high profile cases, thieves may hold on to information and wait for the dust to settle. As time passes, people become complacent and less likely to notice a problem. That is a prime opportunity to those that mean to steal your identity. To protect yourself, it is important to continue monitoring your card activity and your credit report at all times.
What to Do When Your Credit Card is Compromised
Hearing about these major breaches can be scary, and you may be inclined to stop using credit cards altogether. However, in today’s world, that may not really be feasible. The best thing to do is to stay on top of your credit card and credit report activity, even if you were not a victim of a security breach. If you did shop at a retailer that reports an issue, take additional precautions. You work hard to build and maintain your credit score,…that extra time and effort to protect it will be well worth it.