Over the weekend, Neiman Marcus reported that their system was compromised. After Target reported their numbers climbed upward of 70 million affected cards, 2013 could be a record breaking year for credit card data breaches. Yikes! What can you do as a consumer?
Rest assured your money is safe, [highlight color=”eg. yellow, black”]but you must take action[/highlight]. Follow these simple steps below to protect your money and identity with your free Equifax Credit Report (and yes, I mean completely free – nothing to buy and I’m not going to ask for your credit card number).
What Steps Should I Take If I Used My Card At Neiman Marcus
- Review your transactions – Start by reviewing your transactions daily. Most credit card companies and banks have apps you can download to review your transactions. Do this weekly if not daily. Set a reminder on your phone or in your email. Have a lot of cards to check? No problem. Sign up for Mint and enter your account information in their secure system. Mint will download your transactions from each of your accounts every time you login. This puts everything in one place and you can use the tool for budgeting as well. I’ve used this service for about 4 years now and love it.
- Sign Up For Alerts – One of my favorite crime fighting tools are text alerts. Many cards now come with alerts that will text you every time your card is charged. When I use my card at restaurants, I receive a text alert with the amount charged before the waiter returns with my receipt.
- Call If You Notice Unauthorized Transactions – If you notice any transaction you don’t recognize, call your bank or credit card company immediately. While you are likely covered for any unauthorized transactions, you need to call the financial institution promptly to be protected. Even if the transaction is small, you need to report it. Criminals will typically test you account by making a small transaction at a gas station or self-checkout kiosk before buying the Rolex.
- Make Sure Your Address Is Correct – If you have recently moved, it is a good time to go online and update your address with your bank and credit card company. If you call, you may have to fax proof of your identity and new address tot he company. If you go into a branch, you may need to show proof of the new address. Usually the self-service option is the least hassle for you. Update your address now and if your card was compromised, the bank will send your letter and new card to the right address.
- Check Your Credit Report – You should check your free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com three times a year. How can I check my credit report for free? The government requires each agency to allow one free credit report every year. I recommend checking your Equifax Credit Report every January, your Experian report in May and your Transunion report in September. The reports typically have the same information so this allows you to get your credit report for free three times a year instead of just once.
What You Should Not Do If You Used Your Credit Card at Neiman Marcus
- Panic – Unfortunately this is not a big deal and banks and credit card companies are used to these occurrences. You will receive a letter and a new card if you were affected. If you have any auto-billing (like the gym membership) set up on your old card, you will need to transfer it. If you call your credit card company, they can quickly identify these reoccurring transactions for you.
- Worry That Someone Will Steal Your identity – In many cases, the thieves only get card data (usually the 16 digit card number, expiration date, CVV or CV2 code, and PIN). However, there are cases where they get your name and address as well. If you have been affected, the bank is required to notify you and tell you what information was compromised – so keep your contact information up to date.
- Demand A New Card – Most credit card companies and banks will automatically reissue your card if it was compromised. Each would rather pay the dollar it costs to mail you a new card rather than chance eating thousands of dollars in fraudulent purchases. There is no need to request a new card unless you know your information was stolen.
When something like this happens, it is very frustrating. However, you don’t have to let it ruin your day. In most cases, the worst cases scenario is you may have to wait a few days to have the funds returned to your checking account (avoid this by using a credit card and paying it off in full). The best case scenario is that you may get free credit monitoring for a year or two. Regardless, don’t forget to check your free Equifax Credit Report today and sign up for email alerts for a yearly reminder.
Got a question or worry that I did not address. Tell me what it is below and I will address it for you.
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