- Posted April 21, 2014 by
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Keeping your debit and credit cards safe from security breaches
It seems like nary a week goes by that the buying public isn’t inundated with reports of a new credit card security breach that has exposed customers’ private financial data to hackers. Most notably was the mid-December 2013 theft of 40 million credit and debit card numbers from shoppers of Target stores. More recently, Michaels Stores admitted the exposure of nearly 3 million card numbers to criminals.
In addition to that retail store’s breach, in April 2014 the so-called “Heartbleed” bug made the news, with claims that the loophole in the OpenSSL secure socket layer of websites whereby commerce took place was one of the worst seen in recent times – one reason being that it has been a vulnerability in existence for two years, but only freshly discovered.
Protecting your credit and debit card numbers
Despite hackers attempting to take advantage of website vulnerabilities in order to phish for financial data and steal it aplenty from customers expecting their card numbers to be kept secure, there are quite a few ways that consumers can still protect themselves and lessen the chance of becoming a victim in this data-driven world.
Try these tips to help protect yourself:
#1 - Check the compliance of hotels and retail locations with PrivacyAtlas™
Before booking a room at a hotel for your next vacation or business trip, take a second to research if the establishment is in compliance with general website security standards by using the unique global registry called PrivacyAtlas™ from Security Validation, LLC.
For example, a simple search for “hotel” or “Hilton” placed in the keyword field of the search engine on PrivacyAtlas.com reveals those locations that are potentially Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant – meaning they are following the standards set by the PCI Security Council for merchants that accept credit and debit cards.
Ferreting out those outlets that are concerned about vital security measures in terms of data and physical security compared with those who aren’t can mean the difference between safe versus stolen identities.
PrivacyAtlas™ provides statistics on the security position of more than 40,000 resorts, hotels and merchants – and plans to increase their database of popular retailers and eateries by the end of 2014.
#2 - Opt not to enter your debit card PIN when shopping
In light of data breaches, many retail stores and gas stations now allow customers who use their debit cards when paying for items to “press the green button for credit” to avoid having to place their sensitive PIN codes in additional locations, thereby lessening the threat of theft by closing off one more portal to thieves trying to obtain compromised information.
#3 - Check your card activity daily
Beyond the aforementioned ways of attempting to keep your card numbers safe, another effective proactive means of dealing with debit and credit card breaches is to make full use of your bank’s website and app to frequently check your recent activity to spot malicious charges.
That’s how I was able to easily discern a charged levied against my Chase Business Ink Visa credit card that wasn’t mine. After all, I knew I hadn’t visited a Wal-Mart location in Georgia recently. Catching it early helped me get the card quickly cancelled and reissued before any further damage was done. Here’s hoping all of the above tips assist you in avoiding trouble as well.