Data from more than 40 million credit and debit cards was stolen during that peak holiday shopping period, according to reports.
What can consumers do to protect their identities? Here are some tips from our experts.
1. Check your accounts immediately. Use a secure WiFi connection to log on to online accounts and review credit card and bank account statements. Take action if you see unfamiliar charges. Call your credit card issuer or bank.
2. Consider replacing the card(s) used at Target. The bad guys can recreate physical cards with the stolen information and use them at any time. Even if they haven’t used your card, the data on the card has been compromised. Waiting to replace it may cost more money and cause more trouble later.
3. Update providers with new card information. When you replace your card, remember to update that information with service providers—such as Netflix, Hulu or your cell phone company—to avoid service disruptions. Otherwise, charges won't go through and you’ll experience more headaches.
4. Take extra precautions. If you don’t immediately replace your cards, Review every transaction daily via your credit card companies’ or banks’ online sites until they are replaced.
5. Check your credit. Review your credit reports from the three reporting agencies—TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Visit annualcreditreport.com, the government-mandated source for free credit reports. Investigate suspicious activity and stay on top of it until the matter is resolved.
Consult with your providers if you suspect you’re a victim of identity theft. You already may have access to identity management services through your insurance carrier, bank or credit union, and membership organizations.