As of this writing the Target compromise has died down. I hope you aren’t saying, “what Target compromise?” If you are let me get you up to date.
Around mid-December it was announced that Target department store had been hacked and that millions of people who used their debit and credit cards between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 at the brick and mortar stores were in jeopardy of having their cards compromised. This is the last thing a retailer, financial institution or a debit card processor wants to hear at the busiest time of the year. It means card reissues, customers freaking out and loss of sales.
Due to the fact that I work in the debit card industry and have about 30 years of banking experience I have written about this issue often.
This is just a strong reminder of how to handle your debit and credit cards. As far as your debit card, be careful how you use it and where. As you can see by the recent Target compromise it does not matter how big the company is the “fraudsters” are many steps ahead in this industry.
If you use your debit card to make purchases you should check your statement each and every day. There are many days that I check my account twice in a day. I look for anything that I don’t recognize. When you are checking your statement look for small amounts like transactions under a dollar that you did not do, this can be “test transactions” done by the thief. They will often do a test transaction to see if the account is good and then move in for the kill.
Please be aware of the transactions you make at places like Red Box or online transactions that you make possibly paying games on your computer or your phone. Often they come through with a different transaction detail then what you might expect.
If you have your paycheck tied to your debit card you may want to set up a different account for direct deposit and so the fraudster cannot access the bulk of your funds. You should be very cautious with the emails and phone calls that you answer.
Here are some “phishing” scams to look out for and just so you know online phishing ads and websites don’t steal confidential information; people willingly hand it over. How many times have you clicked on an ad that directs you to a website where you have to watch a video before the seller gets to the point? You know those get rid of belly fat ads.
Also beware of phone calls like this “Hi, I’m from Microsoft Technical Support and you have a virus on your computer.” Hang up right away Microsoft does not do this.
Criminals also send phishing emails promising a guaranteed loan or credit card for a fee paid in advance. Be very suspicious of these offers.
Keep your eye on your money. If you think you have been scammed call your financial institution immediately.
Correction to Pittsburgh Council of Men Officers: Clayton Robinson should have been listed as treasurer.
(Email the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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