What Consumers Can Do if Their Financial Data is Compromised

In this day and age, possible data breaches can unfold at any turn you take. In the recent past, we’ve seen them at retail stores like Home Depot, restaurants like Chick-fil-A and even top financial institutions like Morgan Stanley. Although we’d all like to turn a blind eye and pretend there are no risks involved, the truth is, there are risks for every consumer.

In the event that you believe your financial data might be compromised, there are some immediate steps you can take to minimize the impact. Consider these top moves to make whether you know your data has been compromised or if you just suspect that it might have been.

1. Monitor Your Transactions

Always keep an eye on credit card statements, financial statements and online accounts to track activity and ensure it matches with your own. If you see any suspicious charges, promptly investigate the matter. Your Social Security statements are also important to monitor, since an inflated reported income can be a major tip-off.

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2. Report Suspicious Activity Immediately

If you see a card transaction that doesn’t look accurate, contact the card issuer by calling the number on the back of your card. Don’t wait until you’re positive the activity is fraudulent. You should always call even if you’re just slightly suspicious. Even if the activity turns out to be your own, which is always the best-case scenario, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

3. Whenever in Doubt, Order a New Debit or Credit Card

Requesting a new debit or credit card will limit the window that a fraudster has to cause damage to your account. Whenever in doubt, order a new card. While some inconvenience comes with having to reset any auto-payments you may have, this pales in comparison to the inconvenience and months (or years) of hassle that come with someone wreaking havoc on your account and potentially stealing your identity.

4. Use Credit Rather Than Debit

It’s better to pay with a credit card, rather than a debit card, should a data breach occur. Credit cards provide more protection and less risk since funds are not directly withdrawn from your bank account as they are with a debit card. In addition, most credit card companies allow 90 days for a victim to report an unauthorized transaction, but usually allow only two days to report unauthorized debit card purchases.

5. Follow Identity Theft in the News

Paying attention to recent data breaches in the news is a good habit to get into. If a major retailer that you usually shop at, for example, is affected by a breach, you will know to be extra mindful of your accounts and be on the look out for signs that reveal you may have been a victim.

6. Enlist the Help of an Identity Theft Protection Service

An identity theft protection service like LifeLock can provide you with more protection than credit monitoring, and watches out for you in ways banks and credit card companies cannot. By enlisting an extra set of eyes and ears, you’ll be ahead of the game in the event of possible data breaches.

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