What to do if your debit or credit card information is part of a data breach

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Now, more than ever, consumers are relying on the convenience of credit and debit cards to make everyday purchases. With this convenience, however, comes the risk of having your account information compromised by a data breach.

In recent years, data breaches at major retailers have become commonplace across the United States. Currently, most retailers use the magnetic strips on the backs of debit and credit cards to access account information. Unfortunately, the account information that is held on these magnetic strips is also easily accessed by computer hackers.

While many U.S. financial institutions are in the process of replacing the older magnetic strips with more sophisticated and secure embedded microchips, it will take time for both card issuers and merchants to get up to speed on these latest card security measures.

In the meantime, if you find that your account information is at risk due to a data breach, you should make it a priority to periodically review your credit card and bank account activity. If you typically wait for your monthly statement to arrive in the mail, consider signing up for online access to your accounts — that way you can monitor your accounts as often as needed. If you see suspicious charges or account activity, you should contact your financial institution or credit card company immediately.

In most cases, your financial institution or credit card company will automatically issue you a new card and card number. If not, request to have new cards and card numbers issued in your name. As an additional precaution, you should also change the PIN associated with the cards.

Time is of the essence, as whether you will be held liable for the unauthorized charges depends on whether the charges were made to your credit or debit card account and how quickly you report them.  

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2016.

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