CFPB: Take These Steps to Protect Your Credit, Debit Card Data

CFPB: Take These Steps to Protect Your Credit, Debit Card Data The best practice for consumers these days is to keep an eye out for suspicious or unusual activity on their credit or debit card accounts.
“The sooner you tell your provider about any unauthorized debits or charges, the better off you’ll be,” the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says in a brief guide to help Americans protect themselves from another wave of cyber thefts, like that ones that hit major retailers over the holidays.
The biggest hack attack was on Target stores, affecting the payment card data and other personal information of at least 70 million Target customers.
The FBI has warned U.S. retailers to prepare for more attacks of the variety that hit Target, according to Reuters. The FBI issued the warning after discovering about 20 cyber theft cases in the past year that involved the same type of malicious software used against Target.
The report to retailers from the FBI detailed the risks from “memory-parsing” malware that infects point-of-sale (POS) systems, which include cash registers and credit-card swiping machines at checkout aisles.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says it has field many questions from concerned consumers since the data breaches made headlines this month.
Here are the four steps the CFPB is advising consumers to take:
1. Check your accounts for unauthorized charges or debits and continue monitoring your accounts.
If you have online or mobile access to your accounts, check your transactions as frequently as possible. If you receive paper statements, be sure to open them and review them closely. If your provider offers it, consider signing up for email or text alerts.
Report even small problems right away. Sometimes thieves will process a small debit or charge against your account and return to take more from your bank account or add more charges to your credit card if the first smaller debit or charge goes through. And keep paying attention—fraudulent charges to your card or fraudulent debits to your bank account might occur many months after the theft of your information during a data breach.
2. Report a suspicious charge or debit immediately.
Contact your bank or card provider immediately if you suspect an unauthorized debit or charge. If a thief charges items to your account, you should cancel the card and have it replaced before more transactions come through. Even if you’re not sure that PIN information was taken, consider changing your PIN just to be on the safe side.
If your physical credit card has not been lost or stolen, you’re not responsible for unauthorized charges. You can protect yourself from being liable for unauthorized debit card charges by reporting those charges immediately after you find out about them or they show up on your bank statement.
If you spot a fraudulent transaction, call the card provider’s toll-free customer service number immediately. Follow up with a written letter. Your monthly statement or error resolution notice will tell you how and where to report fraudulent charges or billing disputes.
When you communicate in writing, be sure to keep a copy for your records. Write down the dates you make follow-up calls and keep this information together in a file.
If your card or PIN was lost or stolen, different rules may apply. Your timeline for reporting after your card, PIN, or other access device is lost or stolen is tied to when you discover the loss or theft or when unauthorized transactions show up on your bank statement. Therefore, you should make the report as soon as you know that there is a problem.
3. Submit a complaint if you have an issue with your bank or card provider’s response.
Debit card issuers should investigate the charges (generally within 10 business days) and take action quickly (generally within 3 business days). For your credit card, it can take longer, but you don’t have to pay the charge while it’s under investigation. You also have a right to see the results of their investigations.
If you have an issue with their response, you can submit a complaint online or by calling (855) 411-2372. For TTY/TDD, call (855) 729-2372.
If you have other questions about billing disputes and your debit and credit card protections, you can Ask CFPB.
4. Know when to ignore anyone contacting you to “verify” your account information by phone or email.
This could be a common scam, often referred to as “phishing,” to steal your account information. Banks and credit unions never ask for account information through phone or email that they initiate. If you receive this type of contact, you should immediately call your card provider (using a customer service number that you get from a different source than the initial call or email) and report it.

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