Earlier this month, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan alerted consumers to several steps they can take to protect themselves against identity theft and unauthorized charges in the wake of data breaches reported by Target and Neiman Marcus stores nationwide.
Madigan is urging consumers to immediately take several steps to protect their bank and credit card accounts:
•You can cancel your old debit or credit card and obtain new cards.
•You can contact your bank to change your debit card PIN numbers and passwords, if you have ever used a debit card to shop at a Target store.
•You can check your bank and credit card accounts daily online and your billing statements every month. Contest unauthorized charges immediately over the phone and in writing.
•Any consumer who has ever shopped at Target can sign up for free credit monitoring being offered by the company in response to its massive data breach. Visit creditmonitoring.target.com to sign up. Consumers must sign up by April 23. You will be provided a copy of your credit report, daily credit monitoring and access to personalized assistance from a fraud resolution agent. But understand, you will not see unauthorized charges through the monitoring, but will see if new accounts are opened in your name or a change of address for an account has been requested.
•You can set up an alert on your account to receive notification when your credit or debit card is used over and above a certain dollar figure. This is called “Setting Transaction Alerts.”
•Beware of callers who claim to be with your card issuing bank. These calls may be a scam. Consumers should contact their bank first at the toll-free number on the back of your card before disclosing any personal information.
Last month, Target first reported a data breach affecting 40 million customers during November and December 2013. Stolen information included credit and debit card data, customer names and PIN numbers. Last week, Target further revealed that names, mailing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses for up to an additional 70 million people nationwide were also compromised.
Media reports have additionally indicated the department store chain Neiman Marcus sustained a recent data breach, which Madigan’s office is investigating.
Consumers with questions regarding Target’s breach are encouraged to visit www.target.com/databreach, or contact Target directly at 866-852-8680.
Consumers can also contact Madigan’s Identity Theft Hotline at 1-866-999-5630. The hotline is staffed with experts who can help victims report crime to local law enforcement and financial institutions, work to repair their credit and prevent future theft.