This is a consumer advice column written by the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana. It appears Thursdays in Business.
After another large data breach last week, your Better Business Bureau serving Northern Indiana offers these tips for consumers concerned that their credit or debit cards may have been compromised by a retail or online data breach.
1. Consumers are not liable for fraudulent charges on stolen account numbers.
2. Check with the website of the retailer for the latest information. Type the store name directly into your browser. Do NOT click on a link from an email or social media message.
3. If your card was compromised, you will likely hear from the bank or card-issuer first. If you have questions, call the customer service number on your card.
4. If your card was compromised, consider putting an alert or freeze on your credit report with the three major credit reporting agencies. A credit freeze will prevent anyone from accessing your credit report or scores. You can still apply for credit by temporarily lifting the freeze.
5. If you shopped at the retailer with a credit card:
• Monitor your credit card statements carefully (go online; don't wait for the paper statement).
• If you see a fraudulent charge, report it to your bank or credit card issuer immediately so the charge can be reversed and a new card issued.
• Keep receipts in case you need to prove which charges you authorized and which ones you did not.
6. For those who shopped at the retailer with a debit card:
• Do all of the above as for credit cards, but pay very careful attention to your account. Debit cards do not have the same protections as credit cards and debit transactions withdraw funds directly from your bank account.
• Contact your bank for more information, or if you want to preemptively request a new debit card or put a security block on your account.
• Beware of scammers who may purport to be from the retailer, your bank or your credit card issuer, telling you that your card was compromised and suggesting actions to “fix” the problem. Phishing emails may attempt to fool you into providing your credit card information or ask you to click on a link or open an attachment, which can download malware designed to steal your identity.
For all businesses that collect customer information:
• Make sure you protect your customers' data. If a data breach can happen to a major retailer with significant data security measures in place, it can happen to any business.
• Check out BBB's online guide Data Security – Made Simpler for free information on how to create a data security plan.
For more information on scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper. Sign up to receive email scam alerts at email@example.com or call 800-552-4631 / 260-423-4433.
Marjorie Stephens is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana. Before you make a purchase, go to the BBB website at BBB.org/northernindiana or call 423-4433 or toll-free 1-800-552-4631 to check out a business.