Following major the data breaches many consumers are left scrambling and concerned about fraud, here are a few steps to take following the Under Armour, Lord and Taylor, and Saks 5th Avenue hacks.
As important as it is to stay trendy, it appears that keeping up with the latest fashions has come at a price for millions of shoppers. As the number of companies falling victim to data breaches hits record highs, three more major corporations recently announced major breaches. Under Armour’s breach has reportedly impacted about 150 million consumers, while HBC, which owns Lord & Taylor as well as Saks 5th Avenue, has left approximately 5 million customers vulnerable. If you fear that you may have had your data stolen here is what you need to know.
Determine What Information Was Stolen
After major data breaches, companies will most often issue a statement about what type of data was stolen. In the case of retail stores the target is almost always payment card data, so be on high alert. Hackers will likely be attempting to sell these card numbers on the secondary market (read more here), where fraudsters will use your cards to make illegal purchases. Outside of your payment card, these hackers can gain access to more information such as telephone numbers, email addresses, or even your address. Particularly with your email address, hackers will bombard you with phishing emails to extract further data in order to steal your identity. Not only can this drain your bank account, but the recovery process can be stressful and time-consuming. In serious cases it can take months to repair your credit, which could cause you to miss mortgage or car payments, only spiraling further out of control.
Minimize possible damage:
Unfortunately, most companies are not going to personally inform you if your data has been stolen. While this is a shift that needs to change in the e-commerce industry, the best thing to do at the moment is to stay vigilant.
1. Closely Monitor Bank Statements — You should be checking your bank statements at least once a week to take note of any potential irregularities. The 5–10 minutes it takes will go a long way in preventing fraud from spiraling out of control. Naturally, the longer a thief has your credit cards the more they will be able to steal. Should you notice any irregularities check out our article here on what to do if your credit card has been stolen.
2. Update passwords — Aside from payment data, passwords are a frequent target of hackers as they act as an access point to much of your personal information. Hackers are also well aware that millions of people have one password for every account, so they can gain access to everything from your bank account to social media pages. You should be changing your passwords every 60 days at a minimum, in addition to using different passwords for every account, but a hard reset is the best idea after a major breach.
3. Be alert to phishing attempts — Phishing is when data thieves pose as a legitimate organization such as the IRS or Amazon in order to steal your data. In most cases, phishing comes in the form of an email with phone calls being the 2nd most common form. Recent data from Symantec even estimates that over half of all emails are spam. The emails will read approximately: “IMPORTANT NOTICE you have an urgent difficulty with your payment/taxes so please enter the following information to confirm your payment/identity.” The best course of action is to ignore these emails completely, should the IRS truly need to get in touch with you about your tax returns they will send notice by old-fashioned snail mail.
Protect Yourself from Future Hacks
Time and time again retail companies have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted with our data. Unfortunately, security infrastructure has fallen victim to a “need” for these companies to maximize profits. With few alternatives for purchasing goods, consumers have long been forced to play into a system where they have no power and no control. Luckily, with a recent wave of Fintech innovation, there are more and more ways for consumers to proactively protect your payments. When shopping online you can use a Token to avoid having to store your credit card data on the vulnerable servers of major retailers. Tokenization works by substituting your data for pseudo credit card information, while still allowing you to shop normally online. It is the same process that has made Apple Pay so secure for card-present transactions. While tokenization will be 100% effective at the point of sale, here are a few other tips for shopping securely online!
As more and more of our lives take place online, protecting your data should be a top priority for any consumer. We are reaching a tipping point, where consumers can begin to take the power back from retailers, and truly take ownership of their payment data. Payment fraud, and more so identity theft, bring nothing but stress and hassle that consumers don’t deserve. Everyone should have the right to feel safe and secure online. It’s time to get proactive and start taking security into your own hands today!
Originally published at jointoken.com.