7 Ways to Protect Against Credit Card Hacks

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7 Ways to Protect Against Credit Card Hacks

The never-ending news of breaches and hacks demonstrate that your sensitive financial and personal data, especially credit card information, is not always secure. Capital One was implicated in one of the greatest data breaches. In July 2019, the credit card business disclosed that the personal information of 106 million of its customers had been hacked. 1

Data breaches are becoming more regular, and you must know how to protect yourself. Because hackers are targeting the firms that store your information, it is difficult to prevent them from obtaining it. Nonetheless, there are a number of steps you can take to mitigate the damage and protect yourself against credit card attacks and breaches.

Key Takeaways

  • Data breaches compromising your credit card information are becoming more regular.
  • One well-known breach that revealed client data was the Capital One cyberattack in 2019.
  • If you are the victim of a breach, immediately get a new card and freeze your credit report to safeguard your credit record.
  • There’s no need to pay for expensive fraud protection.
  • To avoid possible breaches, keep an eye out for phishing scams and utilize difficult-to-crack passwords.

7 Ways to Deal with Credit Card Hacks

Why do cyber burglars take the time to cause such widespread havoc? Because it is profitable. According to credit reporting bureau Experian, your credit card information is worth anywhere from $5 to more than $100 on the underground market. 2

Other credit card hacks in recent years have included Wendy’s, which was attacked by a breach in 2016 that exposed consumer payment information at over 1,000 separate locations. 3 In 2014, a data breach at Home Depot compromised 56 million credit and debit cards. 4 The well-known Target data hack in 2013 impacted around 40 million customers. 5

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Even if you haven’t yet been hacked, several of the seven steps outlined here may make your data more difficult to retrieve and less useable if you are involved in a breach. They vary from routine account monitoring to credit freezes.

1. Get a Replacement Card

If you’ve been informed that you’re a victim of a data breach, notify the organization right away and get a replacement card. You’re not going to get any resistance from the corporation, which is already ashamed. But if you do, don’t give up.

2. Check Your Account Online

Don’t wait for your statement to arrive before checking it—monitor your account online on a frequent basis. Even if you obtain a new card, keep checking every day for at least 30 days. If you discover a questionable charge, you should challenge it right away.

3. Freeze Your Credit

If you are the victim of a data breach, contact each of the three major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and ask that your credit report be frozen. When you freeze your credit report, no one will be able to view it without your permission. Creditors are unlikely to accept your application unless they have access to your credit record.

If you’re concerned about prospective breaches, you may place a credit freeze on your accounts ahead of time—you don’t have to be a victim of fraud. However, this process makes obtaining any kind of credit difficult for both you and the prospective lender, so you may want to reconsider.

4. Place a Fraud Alert

A less harsh option to freezing your credit is to issue a fraud warning on your credit record with the credit bureaus. For one year, a fraud alert may safeguard your credit history from illegal access, after which it can be renewed. A fraud alert does not totally lock down your credit reports as a credit freeze does, but it does force creditors and lenders to verify your identification before granting new lines of credit in your name. 6

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There’s no need to pay for expensive fraud protection. In your stress, you may be tempted to pay hundreds of dollars every year for credit monitoring services. Do not attempt it. You may keep track of your own accounts by carefully analyzing the information that is provided for free.

5. Order Your Credit Reports

Each credit reporting firm is required by law to provide you with one free credit report per year, but if you have previously been a victim of fraud, you may be entitled for more frequent free reports. 7 Even if you haven’t been targeted yet, be proactive and review your free reports. Ideally, you should order one every four months, spreading your requests among the three major credit reporting agencies to ensure you have enough coverage throughout the year.

6. Watch for Phishing Scams

The fact that criminals have your credit card number does not imply that they also have the expiry date and the three- or four-digit card verification value (CVV) number. Be wary of phishing, a fraud in which the thief sends an email or makes a phone call in an effort to collect the remainder of the information.

Don’t give anybody your information until you phone the firm directly. If someone leaves a message, check the company’s website for a phone number that matches what the person in the message supplied. For further protection, contact the business directly and confirm that the individual who phoned you is genuine.

7. Be Smart About Passwords

Using all of the password guidelines will not prevent a breach, but it can’t harm since you don’t know what information hackers are searching for. Passwords should be strong (random characters and numbers) and changed regularly. Remember that if it’s simple for you to remember, it’s usually simple for a clever cyber thief to break.

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You may also wish to use extra digital security measures, such as two-factor authentication, which sends a unique one-time code to a trusted device, such as a cell phone. This adds a supplementary layer of security by requiring physical ownership of your device before enabling an unknown user to sign in to your accounts. Newer authentication methods, like as Face ID and Touch ID on iPhones, are gradually replacing passwords as an acceptable way to provide someone access to sensitive financial information. 8

The Bottom Line

If you haven’t already been a victim, take proactive steps to reduce your vulnerability. Don’t be alarmed if you have. It will take some time to settle things out, but you will not be charged for any charges that were not your fault. Call your credit card provider, inform them of any inaccurate charges, and wait for them to be removed from your account. Meanwhile, keep an eye on your credit report and credit card bills for any more indications of illicit activity.

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