Home Depot customers who shopped there this summer must take steps to protect their credit card accounts. The home improvement retailer has confirmed that the account information for 56 million cardholders was compromised when hackers breached the company’s cash register networks at stores in the United States and Canada.
The affected registers have been removed and the hackers’ access has been closed off. The company said there is no evidence that debit card PINs or online customers were compromised. But consumers should be aware of how to secure their identities.
Why do thieves steal this data? To sell it on black market websites to criminals who run as many fraudulent transactions before the bank closes or replaces the account.
What You Should Do
If you shopped at Home Depot between April and September 2014, here are a few steps to detect the fraudulent use of your credit card as soon as possible and protect your accounts.
1. Replace the card you used at Home Depot right away. Thieves can use your stolen information to recreate cards. Even if there aren’t any fraudulent charges yet, the data is compromised and it may be only a matter of time before your card information is criminally used.
2. Check your account statements immediately—and monitor them regularly. Log on to online accounts to review credit card and bank statements from a secure WiFi connection. If you see unfamiliar charges call your credit card issuers or bank. Be sure to check your old account number and its new replacement.
3. Update your new payment information. If you have automatic payments set up with Hulu, your gym, phone provider or other creditors make sure you update those accounts to avoid service disruptions.
4. Accept free credit monitoring offered, but be aware of its limitations. It can’t hurt, but it won’t help because this service only reviews changes to your credit file with the three reporting agencies—TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. The only way to find out if an existing card is misused is to monitor your accounts for suspicious activity.
5. Take advantage of identity management services from CyberScout. Our fraud specialists are available 24/7 to help you detect fraud and work with financial institutions to remove fraudulent charges.
If you're concerned about your financial accounts, consult with your credit card providers without delay. You may have access to CyberScout's premier identity management services through your insurance carriers, banks, credit unions or other organizations.