With data breaches at major companies becoming more frequent It’s just a matter of time before your information is compromised.
Below are 9 tips on how to protect yourself amid the growing security threat.
See the original article in its full format on the CBS Money Watch site here.
1. Check your credit card and debit card statements on a line-by-line basis. “There is absolutely no substitute for being vigilant,” Samid said. Thieves may place a small charge — just a dollar or two — to check if the card is active. Because of this, report any questionable charge, no matter how small.
2. If you notice an unauthorized charge, ask your financial provider to cancel the card and issue you a new one. “This is most advisable with a debit card,” Kroll’s Lapidus noted.
3. Consider tools for monitoring both your credit profile and your card activity. Target is offering a credit-monitoring service for customers, which Lapidus believes affected individuals should enroll in. Consumers may also want to use a bill-monitoring service such as BillGuard, which uses crowdsourcing to flag suspicious charges. The service has caught $60 million in fraudulent charges during the past two years, Samid said.
4. Be suspicious of correspondence claiming to be from your bank or the retailer you shopped at. Because Target’s security breach also included theft of personal data, it’s more likely the thieves will use “phishing” to convince you to part with even more sensitive information, such as passwords.
5. Phishing isn’t only done via the phone and email. Scams also abound on Twitter and Facebook. For instance, already a “phishing” tweet purporting to offer a link to check if you were a victim of the breach has surfaced, Samid notes. Once you click on it, it asks you to re-enter your Twitter password. This could end up as a major financial problem if you use the same password for your bank accounts.
6. Double check the URL of the bank or retailer in any correspondence you receive. If it doesn’t look right, don’t click on it. Better yet, enter your bank’s URL in a separate browser window, to ensure you are reaching your bank and not a scam site.
7. Change your passwords. An astounding number of people use simple passwords like “password” or “1234” for their accounts, notes Neil Chase of Lifelock, which offers identity-theft protection services. Some consumers may want to use a password generator, although for most people changing their passwords to include capital letters, symbols or numbers may be enough.
8. Shred documents. While the focus in Target’s security breach has been on electronic theft of data, criminals still steal physical documents, Chase notes. Remember to keep all your data secure, not just your online information.
9. Be aware if you start receiving strange pieces of mail, Kroll’s Lapidus said. While it might mean nothing, it could also “be a sign that data has been compromised.”