Over the weekend, my 17 year old son made an observation that speaks to the recent Target breach as well as our attitude towards card breaches as a society. He said, "Mom- I drove by Target today and I was surprised! The parking lot was jam packed with people. The news said Target was responsible for compromising their credit cards- why are they still shopping there?" An innocent enough question with some very thought provoking considerations!
Target's breach is just one in a long line of card breaches that feeds the 52.8 BILLION DOLLAR Credit Card Fraud Industry.
While full reports have yet to be released, it would be a safe bet that Target staff members and officials have taken precautions to protect card data and that they have been the victim in yet another assault on our card data.
So how is it that we consumers can go from breach to breach, without missing an opportunity to whip out our plastic? As a credit card processor, I am thankful for the obvious answer to that question: our society relies HEAVILY on the use of plastic and that is why the criminals can continue their assault on our plastic and our peace of mind!
Here are some things that we simply MUST do with regard to our use and management of our credit cards, in order to make sure our personal lives are not turned upside down when a breach occurs.
Sign Your Credit Card- NOT with 'See ID': credit card fraud preventon begins with the proper handling of your card and your credit card is not valid unless it is signed.
Keep Your Receipts & RECONCILE: If you do like many Americans do and you toss receipts rather than keeping them and checking them against your credit card statement each month, you are less likely to catch any unusual activity and more likely to become a victim of credit card fraud.
Accept Personal Responsibility: (It does make a difference!)
- When you hear about card breaches, take the time to contact your card issuers to insure that your cards have not been compromised.
- When you use your card, have the clerk verify ID.
- When you shop online; verify the security of the site BEFORE entering your card information.
- When a business does not ask security questions in 'card not present' environments- REQUIRE that they do!
- Keep a list of places where you have your credit card data stored (Amazon, Barnes & Noble and a million other places)- so if there is a problem you know when to take action.
- Limit the number of places where you allow your card to be stored!
- ASK if the business is PCI compliant? A business owner who is taknig the steps to protect your data can still be compromised but as a consumer, you need to take an active role and KNOW that they are donig what they can.
If Your Card is Breached- TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION: Call your card issuer and...
- Activate the new credit card immediately & destroy the old card
- Call the vendors with whom you have auto-pay and change the account information ASAP
- Check the credit card statement for fraudulent charges and report any to the bank/CU that issued your card
- Check the credit report for the next year (and beyond) for spurious credit events (credit cards, loans, liens, etc.)
THANK YOU Target- for your cooperation with local authorities and for the additional 10% discount that caused your parking lot to remain full during this holiday season! ...AND Thank you Tyler Perry for asking EXCELLENT questions that show you are going to be an astute credit card carrier!