Have you ever gotten a letter in the mail from your bank saying that your account may have been compromised? If you’ve ever had this happen before, it elicits all sorts of questions. Was there fraudulent activity on my account? Who ‘may have’ compromised my card, and when? Am I liable financially?
First of all, getting a letter like this doesn’t necessarily mean there was a fraudulent transaction. Your bank is simply following a standard precaution. What it does mean is there was suspicious activity associated with your debit card. Your card number and name might have been obtained by an unauthorized source, usually at a retail location with a card processing system targeted by hackers.
Secondly, your bank may not even know where and when the card was potentially compromised. Master Card, Visa and other card companies don’t usually release this information to the bank unless there’s a massive breach (such as the Target and Home Depot incidents of the last few years). Card companies simply notify the bank of suspicious activity, and your bank follows its standard policy – which is usually to cancel the card number and issue a new one.
Thirdly, even though you don’t know if, when, and where the compromise might have occurred, it’s important to do your own research. Besides credit card companies, banks also monitor account activity. This offers another level of assurance, but you can never be too cautious. We should always keep a close eye on our bank accounts, especially since small, ordinary transactions can be easily overlooked. Hackers often test a stolen card number this way before making major purchases or withdrawals (like dipping a toe in the water to test the temperature before plunging in). So if you do receive a letter like this in the mail, immediately check your account activity. If there are any unauthorized transactions, call the bank and report them.
Lastly, examine your habits for anything that is leaving your card number vulnerable. Have you been using your debit card more than usual? If you make frequent electronic purchases, use a credit card – which at least won’t risk your personal checking and savings accounts getting wiped out.
Along with this, consider the following precautions:
- When making online purchases, always look for the secure “lock” icon.
- Listen to your instincts if anything looks fishy about a website you’re entering personal information into.
- Clear your web browser history frequently. Don’t let your computer save passwords, and delete cookies.
- Don’t respond to emails requesting verification of personal information. Because of the risks, your bank will never ask you to do this.
- Be skeptical of application downloads and updates, even if they look legitimate. Scammers are great at creating imitations that install spyware on your computer.
- Use a quality anti-virus and anti-malware program and make sure it’s enabled to run routine scans.
If you have a First Financial Debit Card – Enroll it in Visa Purchase Alerts today! You’ll get an email each time your Debit Card is used over an amount you set, when your card is used outside the county, or when your card is used to make a purchase online or over the phone.
Article Source: Jessica Sommerfield for MoneyNing.com