Home Depot Security Breach

Home Depot’s Credit Card Breach – Is Your Credit Safe?

Home Depot's Credit Card Breach: Is Your Credit Safe?In September, Home Depot confirmed that it had been the target of a major cyber attack, which affected 56 million credit cards over the course of five months. The company says that the exploit was a complex, customized piece of malware specifically designed to attack its systems.

Both JP Morgan Chase and Capital One Financial Corp have issued replacement cards to customers who may have been affected by the credit information breach.

Cards may have been exposed as early as April; the attack lasted until September, when a block of credit card data from the exploit was offered for sale on a black market website. Experts say that Home Depot had failed to enable a key safety feature that might have alerted them to the attack sooner.

This and other serious breaches like the one that affected Target last year can have painful and inconvenient effects for those whose data was compromised. Consumer Reports estimates that 22.5% of those whose data is acquired in a credit card hack are later the victims of identity fraud.

A cyber security expert at Trend Micro puts the estimate even higher, saying that about 70 percent of stolen cards will be used for at least one credit card transaction. When fraudulent charges are identified, the credit card company removes them. But, it can take time and stress to identify fraudulent charges and have them handled.

In addition to the increased security that retailers have pledged, there are also things that you can do to protect your private information and protect your finances.

Protecting Yourself From Credit Card Hacks and Exploits

1. Create online logins for your credit and debit accounts. Check these regularly for suspicious or unexplained charges. If one appears, contact your bank as soon as possible to protect yourself.

2. If you read about a breach that may have affected you, call your bank to get a new card immediately. This way, even if your data was compromised, it will not affect your account.

3. Be watchful for phishing attempts. When a hacker acquires your credit card information, they may need more to do real damage. Don’t provide identifying information like your Social Security number or driver’s license number over the phone or via email.

4. Change your passwords and PINs regularly. Choose strong passwords that won’t be guessed easily by people who have found or guessed other personal information about you.

5. If you are affected by a breach, put a security freeze on your credit report. This prevents lenders from accessing your credit to give loans or revolving lines of credit. This is a free service if you have been the victim of identity theft.

6. Check your credit reports. You are entitled to a free report from each of the major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) once per year. If you’ve issued a 90-day fraud alert on your credit report, you can request a second free report. Monitor these reports carefully to ensure that no unidentified accounts have been opened in your name.

7. Ask merchants, whether they are large corporations or small mom-and-pop places, if they are PCI-DSS compliant. This security standard reduces your risk of having your data improperly acquired.

8. When in doubt, use your credit card instead of your debit card. If your debit card information is breached, it can lead to cascading overdraft fees, which can cause other payments from your account to be denied. While you will eventually get your money back, using credit instead of debit can help you to avoid some of the headache in the meantime.

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Authorized User Accounts

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Authorized User Accounts – How they work?

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Authorized users on credit card accounts are commonly used in a variety of situations. Parents can use them for children, employers for particular employees, and couples will often set up each other as users on their credit cards. Understanding what an authorized user account means can help people determine if this option is right for them.

Setting up an Authorized User Accounts

An authorized user account means that the person can use the credit card for their own expenses. Often, the primary account holder will be able to set credit limits for a particular authorized user if they choose, but it is not required. Although the process of adding a spouse to a credit card might not differ much from adding an employee, the potential risks and benefits may differ.

What are the benefits of having an Authorized User Accounts?

Those who have become authorized users on credit cards find that the opportunity can help them boost their own credit and potentially repair credit scores. Although just being an authorized user is not enough to earn a good credit score by itself, the credit line is noted on the person’s own credit history the same way it is noted from the primary card holder. This can help establish an financial track record and give the user a leg up when it comes time to build their own credit or if they need help with credit repair.

Many users also appreciate the ability to gain experience using a credit card and having experience using plastic. In certain situations, such as an employer making employees authorized users, it can also make keeping track of the company finance easier and more straightforward. Couples can use joint cards to build their team credit scores as well.

What are the drawbacks that users should be aware of?

It is critical to ensure that any user added to the card is trustworthy and ready for the responsibility. A user who spends too much, misses payments, or otherwise mismanages the money can hurt the credit score of the primary user as well. Understanding of proper debt management is crucial. Financial difficulties are also well known for their potential to hurt relationships, so any credit card relationship should be carefully considered.

 

Authorized users on credit card accounts can be very convenient for a number of situations and even help people build credit scores. Like any financial decision, however, it needs to be thought through very carefully to avoid potentially damaging liability. Review the above information and speak with a professional about credit tips to determine whether or not adding or becoming an authorized user is the best decision for a particular situation.

 

For more information on how to repair your credit call our office at 617-265-7900 or click below.

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