On August 5th, 11 people were indicted for allegedly hacking into major retailer's computer systems and stealing 40 million credit and debit card numbers and passwords. Generally, credit card numbers are at risk when shopping online via an insecure website, but this time, your data may have been at risk even if you swiped your card while personally inside a retail store. The investigation has been ongoing since 2006, so information may have been obtained as long as a few years ago.
The Stores AffectedNine major retailers were affected:
- T.J. Maxx
- BJ's Wholesale Club
- Boston Market
- Barnes & Noble
- Sports Authority
- Forever 21
What You Can Do
First, pay attention to all of your credit card and checking account statements. Be on the lookout for suspicious activity. Second, you should probably get a free copy of your credit report. There are no indications that this data was used for opening new accounts of identity theft purposes, but you should b e checking your credit report once a year anyway. And third, if you're really concerned, you could call the company that issued your card and cancel the current card and request a new one. With the old card invalid and a new number established, you can help protect possible future fraudulent activity.
Sometimes, your data can be at risk without you even knowing it, and it could be completely out of your control. Even so, it always helps to follow some basic tips on how to prevent identity theft. And if the thought of people obtaining your information like this bothers you, there is always the option of using cash. Not only does using cash prevent hackers from stealing your data, but it could even help you cut back on overspending.