via flickr” url=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/clintw/241152422/sizes/m/in/photostream/”]We doubt this was a Halloween prank: Possibly tens of thousands Wells Fargo customers in Florida and South Carolina received portions of other customers’ bank statements in the mail Wednesday, Brendan Kearney reports in The Post and Courier.According to Kearney, the bank “had not heard of a problem,” however, the bank’s customers obviously felt differently as complaints continued flooding the news outlet today.
While any report of a data breach is horrifying for consumers, Wells Fargo’s customers should be on especially high alert, says Luke Landes, a personal finance expert who blogs at Consumerism Commentary. Both their personal identity and bank holdings are at risk of being compromised by thieves.
Landes, who’s been a Wells Fargo customer for almost 25 years, took a look at his recent statement for Business Insider, citing what information it stated. In print was his name, checking account and routing numbers, including a list of all the companies where he’d done business in the last month.
“Having the routing number and the checking number is like having a key to your account,” he says. “If a signature wasn’t checked, that would make it easy to debit your account.”
If you were one of the customers involved in this data breach, here’s what you need to do:
Change your account number. Rather than put a hold on your account, making it difficult to get by day-to-day, or closing the account altogether, which could delay direct deposit or automatic bill payments, just change the account number, 1-2-3.
“For some, this may be the customer’s last straw, but I wouldn’t close the account unless I had problems with the bank already,” says Landes. “Changing your account number gives you more security, despite the work.”
Put a credit alert or some kind of lock on your card’s account. Also known as a “security freeze,” this will keep the credit bureau from releasing your credit information without your consent.
Keep a close eye on your money. Obviously, you should start checking your account more often than you normally would to ensure you’ll find anything fishy.
Many of the Wells Fargo customers received statements from people they actually knew, so if the guy down the block knew Fido’s name, for example, that might make it easier for him to take your money more discreetly.
“They would also be able to call the bank and get more information about the account,” Landes says.