Every year millions of Americans become victims of fraud due to merchant data breaches. And, with the recent Equifax breach, which affected 145.5 million people, chances are your information has been compromised.
Although most consumers have probably only heard about a few breaches, more than 1,100 data security breaches have occurred thus far this year exposing more than 171 million data records, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. Many credit unions are working hard to implement debit and credit card chip technology, but they do not prevent online merchant transaction fraud. As cybersecurity threats continue to evolve in both sophistication and scale, the need to safeguard your data has never been more critical.
Credit unions work hard to protect their members' data security including blocking and re-issuing cards as needed. When fraud occurs, they work with members to remove the fraudulent charges and help members keep their hard-earned money. When the merchants cause a data breach, they pass along the costs of their poor security to credit unions and banks. Expenses like this are making it harder for credit unions to offer credit cards with low interest rates and free debit cards with checking accounts. With more and more merchant data breaches occurring each year consumer identity fraud will only continue to increase, placing your private information into the hands of criminals.
So, what do you do if your identity is compromised? Here are some tips and resources to help:
- Verify fraud. If unauthorized account transactions occur, contact your financial institution or company where fraud has occurred to report unknown charges.
- Update your passwords. Once fraud is confirmed, change account logins and passwords. Passwords should be robust with multiple types of characters (upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols).
- Take control. To avoid additional compromises place an initial fraud alert by calling one of the three national credit reporting companies (Equifax: 800-525-6285; Experian: 888-397-3742; TransUnion: 800-680-7289).
- Report theft. To begin an identity recovery plan report your theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online at IdentityTheft.gov or by phone at 1-877-438-4338.
To learn more about how merchant data breaches are affecting your credit union visit www.stopthedatabreaches.com.