Six things to do if your credit card data is stolen
The question on everyone’s mind: Is your identity safe? With the rise of online shopping, consumers have also seen a rise in the number of reported online data breaches. As a result, Canadians are reporting more cases of identity theft and credit card fraud than ever before.
In fact, cyber-related theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in Canada, and it is happening all over the web – including the sites of some of our most trusted brand name retailers.
Walmart Canada is the latest corporate shopping site to report such crime, with the retailer’s online photo processing site announcing a possible data breach that may have compromised the personal information and credit card numbers of up to 60,000 customers.
Jeff Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, believes that this is wake-up call for all Canadian online shoppers.
“For the most part, Canadians realize they need to be careful about sharing their personal information with retailers,” says Schwartz. “Yet despite our best efforts, our increasingly digital lives have potentially put us in harm’s way.”
Schwartz adds, “The bad guys continue to get creative, and as long as we are using the web to shop, they will continue to find new ways to steal personal information.”
At best, cybercrimes like the Walmart breach can cause inconvenience and annoyance. But Schwartz warns that at worst, they can lead to financial ruin.
“Now more than ever before, consumers need to be diligent about monitoring their financial accounts. They also need to know what to do and how to respond quickly if they become a victim of online credit card fraud.”
If your personal credit card information has been compromised online, Schwartz and the team at Consolidated Credit recommend following these steps to take action immediately:
- Call your credit card company. If you believe your credit information has been compromised in any way, contact your credit card issuer immediately. By reporting the situation, most credit companies will work with you to track down the fraudulent activity and monitor your account. Informing your creditors of unauthorized charges sooner rather than later will also put you in a better position to have those charges refunded.
- Contact the credit bureaus. When you suspect your personal information has been stolen, it is important to inform the credit reporting companies – Equifax and TransUnion. Identity theft can seriously harm your credit score. By reporting the situation you can have an alert put on your account, making it more difficult for fraudsters to use your information.
- File a report. If you have been a victim of identity theft or fraud, it is essential to file a police report. This report will provide you with an Identity Theft Affidavit which you will need when disputing unauthorized transactions and requesting information be removed from credit reports.
- Delete your online account information. Whether you have been a victim of fraud or not, it is never a good idea store personal information on a retail website. If your credit card is linked to any online retail stores or bill pay sites, go through each account and remove linked and auto-saved information immediately. All future purchases should be made by manually entering payment information.
- Try credit monitoring. When major retailers experience a data breach they typically take action to win back the consumer’s confidence. In most cases, this means offering free credit monitoring to those affected by the breach. Even if it is not offered, signing up for a credit monitoring service may offer some peace of mind in the wake of a compromised account. These services track your credit reports and alert you of any suspicious activity immediately.
- Talk to your bank. Even if you accounts are not linked with your bank account, you should still inform your bank that you have been a victim of identity theft. If your financial institution is aware of fraudulent activity, they may be more vigilant about monitoring your accounts.
Identity theft and fraud can do a lot of damage to your personal finances and future financial goals. If you have been the victim of identity theft or credit card fraud and can’t get your debt under control, we can help. Call today to speak to a trained credit counsellor and find out how you can get your budget under control. You can also try our Free Debt Analysis online and a counsellor will reach out to you.