Protecting Yourself From Online Hackers

What to do if you receive a data breach notification

Protect your privacy from online hackers
Protect your privacy from online hackers
  • Protect your privacy from online hackers
    Protect your privacy from online hackers
    Protect your privacy from online hackers
    Protect your privacy from online hackers

Global Payments is the latest company to fall victim to a large-scale
hacking incident. On Monday, the company said hackers stole debit
and credit card account information for nearly 1.5 million consumers.

Unfortunately, this has become a fairly common news story. Last year,
hackers stole personal information from a reported 24 million accounts from
Sony Online Entertainment. In 2010, 130 million accounts were stolen from a
payment processing company, Heartland Payment Systems. In 2007, 46 million
accounts were stolen from TJ Maxx and Marshall's. Even MasterCard had 40
million accounts compromised in 2005.

According to a recent study by Javelin Strategy & Research, consumers
who receive a data breach notification are six times more likely to be the
victim of identity theft or fraud.

What can you do if you receive a data breach notification?

The most important precaution is to check your credit and debit card
accounts regularly for any unauthorized charges. Don't just look for large
purchases. Hackers sometimes make small transactions since they are
more likely to fly under the radar. Be persistent with watching your
accounts--it may be months or even a year before thieves actually
use your card

While the large-scale hacking incidents get the publicity, there are several
precautions consumers can take to protect their accounts from getting
compromised by individual hackers:

1. Change your passwords from time to time. Don't publicly post anything
you may use as a password: your birthdate, pet's name, mother's maiden
name, or your school. Identity thieves can use the information you post to
guess your password.

2. Do not email your credit card number to anyone. No financial institution
or legitimate company will contact you by phone or email to ask for your
social security number, credit card number or other personal information.
Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from
email you receive, regardless of what company sent them.

3. Check your credit reports. You can get one free credit report every year
from each of the three credit bureaus. Go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com
or call (877) 322-8228 to order. Stagger these reviews throughout the year
in order to catch anything that isn't correct in your account.

4. If you use a wireless router, password protect it and enable the
encryption to scramble the data you send online.

5. Use your credit card instead of debit card. Credit cards offer stronger
fraud and identity theft protections.

6. If you feel your information has been compromised, place a fraud
alert at the three major credit bureaus. Call Experian at 888-397-3742;
Equifax at 800-525-6285; and TransUnion at 800-680-7289.
You can put a security freeze on your files.

7. Ask your bank if it has free software to protect your bank account.
For example, Bank of America offers Trusteer Rapport for its online
banking customers.

8. If your information has been stolen, file a complaint with the Federal
Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint. The data is used to create
a picture of wrongdoing. Unfortunately, the FTC won't get your money back.

LowCards.com ( http://www.lowcards.com ) simplifies the confusion of
shopping for credit cards. It is a free, independent website that helps
consumers easily compare credit cards in a variety of categories such as
lowest rates, rewards, rebates, balance transfers and lowest introductory
rates. It also gives an unbiased ranking and review for each card. The
LowCards.com Complete Credit Card Index
http://www.lowcards.com/CreditCardIndex.aspx ) is the most objective
and comprehensive resource on the Internet which allows consumers to compare
rates for over 1000 credit cards offered in this country. Created by Hampton
& Associates, the company has been analyzing the credit card industry and
supplying objective websites on various consumer expenses for twelve years.

For more information, contact Bill Hardekopf at 1-800-388-1910 or
billh@LowCards.com.