Holiday Credit Card Fraud Alert

surprised girl in a Christmas night with mobile phone and credit


In December 2013, Target disclosed that up to 40 million of its customers’ credit and debit cards were compromised in a security breach. During 2014 there have been several other security breaches at major retail stores.  The large data breach at Home Depot Inc. triggered fraudulent transactions that rippled across financial institutions and, in some cases, drained cash from customer bank accounts.

The 2014 holiday shopping season is now upon us.  In late August, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service issued an advisory about retail point-of-sale malware infections that have affected an estimated 1,000 businesses.

22.5 percent of consumers who received notice of a security breach, like the ones that occurred at Target and Home Depot, subsequently became victims of identity theft, according to a survey of 5,000 consumers by Javelin Strategy and Research, a California consulting firm that has studied this crime for more than 10 years.

“Millions of Americans flock to malls and box stores to purchase gifts for the holidays and prepare to shop the after-holiday January sales” says Martin Walcoe,  Executive Vice President of David Lerner Associates.  Here are some tips to help keep your financial data secure this holiday season:

1. Use one credit card for all holiday shopping. Check the online statement for this card regularly and watch for fraudulent purchases.  Use the online account access or a mobile banking app, so you can check every day.

2. Immediately request a new credit or debit card.  If you are aware of a breach don’t wait for your bank to replace the card. Initiate the call yourself.

3. Watch for phishing emails. Hackers don’t always get everything they need to break into your bank accounts.  They’ll send you e-mails or even call on the phone and pose as your bank or card issuer to try to trick you into giving up the missing pieces, including mother’s maiden name, account username and password, date of birth, and Social Security number

4. Monitor your credit report regularly.  Check for fraudulent new accounts. You can get three free credit reports (one from each credit bureau) from and three more in many states that also mandate free annual reports.

5. Change your passwords regularly.  Update all your financial accounts and use strong passwords.

Unfortunately credit card fraud has become commonplace in the USA.  Until the financial institutions introduce the more secure cards that make it all but impossible for hackers to breach security of the cards, this cybercrime is likely to be with us.  Take the necessary steps to protect yourself from credit card fraud this holiday.

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