UPDATED 1/10/14: Shoppers are now learning that as many as 70 million credit cards and debit cards are now at risk after a massive data breach at Target stores.
The original number was 40 million, but Target has now upped the figure to include pretty much anyone who used plastic after mid-November 2103 at Target. That's almost a quarter of the US population, so if you visited Target this holiday season, consider yourself part of this.
Target also says customer email addresses are also part of the breach.
It has all of us asking what we can do to protect our finances.
So we came up with this list of things you should do if you suspect your card has been compromised.
Very first thing you should do. Limit the damage that’s already been done and keep it from getting worse. And when you do, make sure your PIN isn't one of these and your passwords aren’t on this list of the easiest to hack.
No. 2 - Cancel Your Card(s)
Get new ones as soon as possible. That may seem redundant if you’ve changed your PIN but if yuour bank will issue a new one (as Chase has done), it is an extra layer of protection.
No. 3 - Place An Initial Fraud Alert On Your Credit Report
The Ohio Attorney General says you should do this with one of the three major credit reporting agencies. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion will keep the initial fraud alert on your credit report for 90 days while you sort things out.
No. 4 - Consider A Security Freeze.
This will lock down your credit report to prevent a third party from seeing it, which the Ohio AG says can protect you from accounts being opened in your name. But know this: In Ohio, that freeze lasts until you lift it so do it with caution.
No. 5 Monitor Your Credit Report
Start immediately, but you’ll want to keep checking it over the following year to make sure nothing suspicious begins to happen.
No. 6 Still Have Questions? Call Target Directly
That number is 1-866-852-8680. IF you can get through.
No. 7: Used a Credit Card at Target? Then monitor your bill carefully. Do not wait for a monthly statement to show up in the mail. You should go online and check your bill every few days. Dispute anything that seems suspicious.
Thieves sometimes charge just $1 to your card to see if it is active, so beware any small charges you did not put there.
As always, don't waste your money.
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