How Consumers Can Prepare for Future Cyberattacks

I’ve written many times about identity theft and credit card fraud, and specifically about how the elderly are more susceptible than the general population.

A recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, highlighted this problem. You all remember the recent massive security breach at Target stores. This is an article about ways to protect yourself from a similar fate. Here are excerpts from the article:

Just as the shock of the massive data breach at Target over the holidays has begun to wane, cybersecurity and other experts are warning consumers to brace for similar attacks in the coming year.

The breach at the mass merchant that compromised card accounts and personal contact information for tens of millions of shoppers nationwide “kind of takes your breath away,” said Bill Hardekopf, CEO of the credit card marketplace Lowcards.com.

PROTECTING YOURSELF

Short of people chopping up their cards and filling their pockets with cash, consumers can take steps to minimize their exposure to future data heists, experts said.

First, shoppers should consider the additional risk that comes with using a debit card vs. a credit card.

Thieves who get a hold of debit card data gain access to a person’s bank account. And depending on the card issuer’s policy, any money that comes out of the account may not be refunded right away.

In contrast, if fraudulent charges are rung up on a credit card, it’s the bank that’s out of the money.

It’s also important to check debit and credit card accounts frequently online for suspicious transactions and report them promptly to minimize any damage.

CHECK YOUR CREDIT REPORT

Experts also recommend that consumers regularly check their credit reports for errors or unfamiliar accounts to help detect identity theft, the type of fraud where a thief may open new credit card accounts, take out loans or commit other crimes under someone else’s name. For the victim, sorting out the mess can be a nightmare.

Federal law entitles consumers to free copies of their credit reports once every 12 months from each of the three main credit bureaus, available at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling toll free 1-877-322-8228.

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