If you’re like us, you spend a hefty amount of cash at Home Depot every year. From buying your Christmas tree in the parking lot to all that crown molding you swore you were going to put up over summer break, the hardware mecca is a one-stop shop for all things home improvement (and when you have kids, this is a glorious thing).
Needless to say, when the news broke this week that the retailer was allegedly hit by a Target-like credit card breach, we kind of went into a panic.
According to The New York Times, Home Depot has yet to confirm they actually have been hacked, but banks have reported fraudulent activity that dates all the way back to April. That means that hackers could have had access to customers’ credit card information for more than 4 months. Real bad news, considering the Target security breach that compromised 40 million credit and debit cards was detected after a mere three weeks. Are you panicking now too?
As scary as it is, there are ways to help protect yourself against this hack, even if your credit card data has already been stolen. Follow these simple steps to ensure that your paycheck and your identity remain intact:
1. Keep a Close Eye on Your Credit Card Activity
If you believe your credit card information has been stolen in this breach, report any suspicious activity to the credit card company and have the card numbers cancelled immediately. We’re lucky enough that all credit cards, including debit cards, come with some sort of fraud protection, and a spokesperson from Home Depot has already stated that customers will not be held accountable for any charges made on their credit cards as a result of the breach. But it can be hard for banks and card companies to monitor everything, which is why you need to closely monitor your statements, too.
2. Sign Up for Credit Monitoring
Aside from checking the purchases on your card statements each month, another way to verify if your identity has been stolen is by monitoring your credit score. Like with the Target breach, Home Depot will be offering “free identity monitoring,” including free credit monitoring. But there are a lot of different services and methods to continue monitoring your credit (even after Home Depot’s free service expires). Some credit card companies already provide customers with their FICO credit score on every statement, so make sure to check whether that’s a feature your credit card offers. Chances are, it might be better than the service Home Depot will provide.
3. Change Your PIN
If you think your debit card number may have been stolen, change your PIN (in addition to getting a new debit card number). There’s no indication that PINs have also been stolen in the potential Home Depot breach, but as the old saying goes, “Better safe than sorry.” Choose a PIN that isn’t something that can be easily figured out (like your birth date), and if you have more than one card that requires a PIN, choose a different one for each.
If you’re still worried your data might have been compromised, Home Depot has set up a page on their website regarding the potential breach, including contact information in case anyone has questions or concerns. They’ve also promised to provide more information as it comes, so if you’re an avid Home Depot customer, you might want to keep a weather eye on the developing situation.
Image: WikiMedia CommonsMore On