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.
Click below to request a free consultation from our team of experts.