What You Should Do Now If Your Data Was Compromised

Hot on the heels of the hospital security breach we commented on yesterday, shipper United Parcel Service (UPS) today announced that customers data – including credit and debit card numbers, and email and postal addresses  – was stolen from as many as 50 UPS stores.

But its not just shippers and hospitals that have been victimized. Last week, supermarkets Albertsons and SuperValu also reported data breaches.

Having your information stolen leaves you vulnerable to scams, unauthorized use of your payment cards, and awful (but also unlikely) full-blown identity theft – that’s when someone uses your personal information to open new accounts in your name.

What can you do to protect yourself if you think your information was stolen? Here’s some advice:

Keep an eye on your accounts!

If your payment card information is compromised, this is the very least you want to do. Look for fishy charges, now and in the future. If you spot a problematic charge, report it to your credit card company or bank immediately. Your liability is limited if you report fraud right away.

Consider replacing your debit or credit cards.

If your debit card was compromised, you may want to get a replacement debit card with a new number to keep someone from temporarily emptying your bank account. Why? Though federal law limits your liability for fraudulent use of your card, you may be out funds until the bank can verify that you are indeed a victim of fraud.

In contrast to debit cards, disputed credit card charges are reversed right away. Even so, that might not be enough to eliminate headaches, so if worrying about your credit card is keeping you up at night, consider replacing your credit card. Remember that if you have any automatic charges to your cards – for example if you automatically charge tolls to something like an EZ Pass or Fastrak – you’ll have to update those accounts with your new debit or credit card numbers.

Take advantage of free credit monitoring even though it won’t prevent the type of fraud most likely to result from a data breach.

Some companies are offering affected consumers free credit monitoring. Credit monitoring ensures that consumers are notified of any changes to their credit files. It does not prevent the most common type of fraud that results from stolen payment data – fraudulent use of payment cards – but it can give consumers piece of mind.

Check your credit reports for free from ANNUALCREDITREPORT.COM – you should be doing this anyway!

Even if you can’t get free credit monitoring, you can look for accounts open in your name by requesting your credit report. You are entitled to a free credit report once a year from each of the big three credit reporting agencies – TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

The only truly free way to get the free annual credit report – no matter what the advertisements say – is at www.annualcreditreport.com, or by toll-free telephone 877-322-8228, or by mail at Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

If you stagger your requests – one every 4 months from a different credit bureau – you’ll have your year covered. When you receive your credit report, check it closely for errors. If any of the information is false, report it by following these steps.

Last but not least, watch out for scams! Hackers who have some of your information may try to contact you to try to get you to reveal even more of your personal information. Don’t fall for it!

Have you been a victim of a security breach? Tell us about it here.