Credit Card Data Breaches: What to Know and What to Do
These days hardly a week goes by without news of another major data breach. When it happens to a credit card company, this can be more than a little concerning. How do you know where to turn or what steps to take? Cutting up all your cards and running screaming into the night will not get your data back, so let’s check out some simple steps to take if your credit card company suffers a major breach.
Are You Affected?
The first thing you should do upon news that your credit company has confirmed a data breach is to find out if you are affected.
DO NOT CLICK ANY EMAIL LINKS CLAIMING TO BE FROM YOUR CREDITOR.
You should not trust any communication coming from the company unless you initiate it yourself.
Contact your creditor directly and ask if your data has been compromised.
Which Data Was It?
Once they confirm you are the victim of a breach, find out which personal data was exposed. If it was only your credit card number or password, these can be changed or otherwise replaced without much hassle.
If it was your social security number or driver’s license number, you could have a bigger problem. Your home address and phone number are very likely already out there, and when added together all this data can be used to steal your identity and cause all kinds of headaches down the road.
Take Help When Offered
When companies lose your data, they will often offer to help fix the damage. This could come in the form of free credit monitoring or identity theft protection. These services normally cost a considerable sum, so be sure to take the whatever the company offers to help protect you. Since your data has been exposed, these services will be more valuable to you than before.
Change Your Passwords
In today’s online world you should already be using different passwords for different sites, so that if one is compromised it doesn’t affect everything else. If this wasn’t already the case before your data was compromised, you need to take extra precautions going forward. Use a spreadsheet or password manager and change any passwords that may contain further sensitive information. (All of them.)
Fraud Alerts Are Your Friends
Contact one of the three credit bureaus and have them place a fraud alert on your file. A fraud alert is free to file, and the bureau you contact is responsible for notifying the others. This will warn lenders that you might be a victim of attempted fraud, and they will be extra-cautious when issuing any new credit in your name. Any potential lender will contact you directly before opening credit lines once they see the fraud alert.
Be Ready Down the Road
Compromised data is not always used right away. Be sure to monitor your credit situation and watch for any unexpected charges or changes. At CreditGUARD we are firm believers in preparing for future financial difficulties today, and part of that preparation is maintaining vigilance when it comes to your finances. Pay attention to the numbers and be sure any fraudulent activity is caught right away.
Working to overcome credit debts can be exhausting and overwhelming when struggling on your own. Don’t let data breaches lead to unpaid bills. Call CreditGUARD and speak with one of our professionals today if you’re struggling with mounting debt or unpaid credit card bills.
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