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Target is now saying that up to 110 million people were victims of a security breach during one of the busiest shopping seasons. Credit card information was stolen using their credit card readers that are used when people pay. So if you were shopping at Target from Nov. 27 to Dec. 15, your credit card information could be used to commit fraud. So what can you do to stop it? Nothing. But you can be prepared in case it happens. Here’s what to do:
Let your credit card company know first. If you were using a debit card, notify your bank. They will be able to catch cases of fraud quicker than you can – they have people trained for such things. They may even request that you change cards or issue you a new one with different information.
If someone is using your credit card information for fraud, the first sign of it happening will be weird purchases on your credit card statement. If the purchases are not too unusual (small purchases made in your area, for example), your credit card company may not see it as a fraud charge, so it is up to you to alert them to any charges on your credit card that you did not make.
First, contact the credit card company to alert them so they can start investigating. Then, call the police. Fraud is a crime and reporting it to the police will help when you are trying to fix any damage done to your credit card or personal credit history. Check your credit report to make sure no one has opened additional credit cards under your name. You can do that for free once a year through annualcreditreport.com, or use the free trial of credit report monitoring service. You can also place a credit freeze on your credit report so no one will be able to apply for credit under your name. Just remember that it also doesn’t allow you to apply for credit either.
People who are victims of fraud are more susceptible to be victims in the future, since their information is already out there. You need to continue to monitor your credit report and your credit card statements to make sure no one is using your identity or credit without you knowing. You can monitor your credit report once a year through annualcreditreport.com, or you can sign up for a credit monitoring service that will give you more frequent updates. They can also help you if your identity is stolen and have insurance policies of up to $1 million to help you restore your identity. Here is a list of our favorite credit report monitoring services.
Above all, remember to keep a straight head. The police and credit card companies are experts at dealing with fraud, and will help you every step of the way. Alerting both of them right off the bat will make the whole experience a little easier.