I shopped at Target. What should I do to protect myself?
There’s nothing more disheartening than learning your precious credit and debit card information has been stolen. It’s enough to make you sick, which caused quite an uproar after Target’s credit card breach after Black Friday 2013. Worse, according to Target, there’s no way to know if you’re a victim or not.
What Target has released is the information the thieves stole. They are: customers’ names, credit or debit card numbers, their card’s expiration date and the CVV. Target has recently revealed that other kinds of information was taken, including mailing and email addresses, and phone numbers.
So, what do you do? Here’s a list of steps to help ensure the safety of your credit information and give you a little peace of mind.
1. First of all, don’t panic.
There are steps you can take right now that will ensure the security of your information. Visit Target’s data breach FAQ page for general FAQs and tips. Taken from the page:
- You have zero liability for any charges you didn’t make.
- Delete texts immediately from numbers or people you don’t recognize.
- Be wary of mass emails asking for money or that send you to suspicious websites. Don’t click links within emails you don’t recognize.
2. Request a replacement debit/credit card right now.
Don’t rely on a financial institution to keep an eye on things for you. You are your own best advocate, so don’t delay.
3. Call a credit reporting agency.
Call an agency such as Equifax and add a fraud alert to your credit report. Be aware, these types of alerts may make it more time-consuming should you apply for credit, but what’s a little time when it comes to protecting your money?
4. Get a free credit report.
To ensure there’s been no unusual activity on your account thus far. You can do this by visiting www.
As of January 10, 2014, Target has offered to provide free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to it’s shoppers. Enrollment information is on the way, and will be updated on Target’s site here.
5. Start banking online.
If you don’t already bank on-line, start now. Using the Internet allows consumers instant access to their bank statements and account activity, without having to wait for the bank to send you a paper copy. Keep an eye on things (always good to do, anyway) and report suspicious activity right away. The sooner you put a stop to fraudulent activity, the easier it will be to keep the damage to a minimum.
Okay, so you’ve taken the above steps, but it’s too late. You’re already noticing charges on your card that you didn’t make. Now what?
6. Call your bank.
Make them aware of the fraudulent charges. If you haven’t already, cancel your card.
7. File a police report.
Call your local law enforcement agency and inform them of the theft. Be certain to obtain a file number and a copy of the report.
8. Notify one of the three credit reporting agencies.
Notify one of the agencies that you are the victim of fraud. All you have to do is let one agency know and they will notify the other two.
9. Place a security freeze on your account.
Some states will allow you to place a “security freeze” also known as a credit freeze on your credit report. Check with one of the credit bureaus to determine if you have that option.
10. Check in with the Federal Trade Commission.
They have some very simple steps for consumers to take when they’ve been a victim of identity theft. They include: Creating a phone log to document your telephone conversations with credit bureaus, law enforcement and banking institutions. Sending letters by certified mail, keeping accurate documentation and making deadlines. Visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/
Bottom line, be proactive, not inactive. Keep an eye on things. If you see something suspicious, report it right away.
Even if you haven’t shopped at Target, you should be aware of the above information–credit card fraud can happen any time, anywhere. In this day and age of bits and bytes, you never know when you, too, might become the next … target.
Image Courtesy – Roadside Pictures
Pamela is the author of thirty-eight romance novels with more coming out every year. She’s best known for her NASCAR romance novels, but writes non-fiction, too. Pamela’s a regular columnist for the American Quarter Horse “Journal” and writes for SuperMoney.com where she shares her personal finance tips on how to thrive in this economy.