Experts offer credit safeguards
by Rachel Davis
Jan 17, 2014 | 1464 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The recent Target security breach has garnered a lot of attention from consumers and technology

The most recent estimate said the information of more than 70 million consumers may have been compromised. Many local banks have already reissued debit cards for customers who may have been compromised by shopping with the retailer. Financial experts are advising anyone who thinks their information could be in danger to cancel their cards and ask the credit card company or financial institution to reissue a new card for the account. They also recommend keeping a close eye on account transactions and immediately reporting any fraudulent activity.

Financial experts also caution that many times these types of breaches result in other fraudulent activity as criminals call or email claiming to be with a financial institution or the retailer. Target issued a statement saying they will not ask for any personal information over the phone or by email from its customers and most banks and credit cards companies are stressing they do not call or email asking for account numbers, personal identification numbers, personal details or passwords.

Synovus, represented locally by First Bank of Jasper, issued customers an information sheet titled “What You Need to Know About the Target Breach.”

In the wake of the massive security breach, local banks are encouraging customers to safeguard their information to prevent future issues.

Online shopping has changed the retail world, but it has also made it easier for hackers and scammers to find personal information to steal identities and access sensitive financial information.

Tips include finding and using a reliable antivirus, anti-spam and anti-spyware program, avoid performing sensitive transactions while connected to unsecured public internet connections and always make sure sites display at https: instead of http: and display a lock icon in the lower right corner before inputting credit card or personal information.

Also, beware of phishing or vishing scams where an email or telephone solicitor asks for personal or financial information. If they claim to be from an entity you conduct business with, hang up and call the number on your card or most recent statement to report the incident. Do not give financial or personal information to anyone who calls or emails.

“Always have a healthy skepticism for incoming email — especially those that claim to be your financial institution,” Synovus’ release said.

To help minimize risk, register home and cell phones with the National Do Not Call Registry by visiting www.donotcall.gov. This will not stop all solicitation calls but will greatly reduce the number.

You can also opt out of pre-approved credit card and insurance offers in the mail by calling 1-888-567-8688 or visiting www.optoutprescreen.com. You will be given the choice to opt out for five years or permanently.

It is also recommended that everyone check their credit score with each of the three major credit agencies every year. Federal law guarantees access to a report from each of these agencies every 12 months.

For access to the free reports, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.

Anyone who believes they have been the victim of identity theft or credit card fraud should contact the police. If you believe you are at risk, you can also freeze your credit for a period of time. More information on credit freezes can be found at www.consumer.ftc.gov.

To complete a credit freeze, you must contact each of the three major credit agencies.