Photo: Flickr / Allen Burt
On Wednesday Barnes & Noble announced that hackers stole credit card numbers and PINs from 63 stores. While Nook and online customers weren’t affected, in-store customers have reported unauthorised purchases (check out the full list of stores here). What should you do if you were one of them? We’ve outlined a few tips, which are useful for anyone facing fraud:
Change your PIN. The damage has already been done, but doing this could spare you more loss down the line. Without a PIN there isn’t much a crook can do other than set up more faulty accounts, which we’ll get to in a second. Whatever you do, don’t change the PIN to any of these 25 passwords or your birthdate.
Keep tabs on financial statements. Now’s the time to be vigilant, so get in the habit of double-checking your accounts routinely and set up an online account to make the task easier. We recommend downloading your bank’s freely-offered app onto your smartphone so you can check statements on-the-go.
Cancel your card and order a new one. Like switching your PIN, this could stave off more fraud and keep the fake charges from rolling in. Again, you won’t be held liable, but we doubt you’ll want to deal with calls from debt collectors, unwanted merchandise showing up at your door and having your card declined.
Sign up for a credit monitoring service. Skip the ones that charge a flat fee every month, and opt for your provider’s which is just as reliable, if not more proactive. They may offer to temporarily freeze your account—another smart option—or notify you by text when something suspicious comes up, among other services.
Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Call one of the three major credit bureaus toll free—Experian, TransUnion or Equifax—to let them know what’s going on. Per the Federal Trade Commission, you can opt for either an initial alert that lasts 90 days or one that stays on your report for seven years and prevents solicitations from being sent to your house. The initial alert grants you one free report from any of the bureaus. The second grants two free credit reports within twelve months.
If all else fails and your identity still gets stolen, check out the FTC’s useful guides to recovering from theft.
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