Susan Tompor: Time to get ‘a little paranoid’ after credit, debit card breaches

By Susan Tompor

Detroit Free Press (MCT)

Published: Monday, May 5 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

The watchdog site called Krebs on Security reported on the BLS scam in late March. A new rash of bogus charges for odd amounts, such as $10.37 or $12.96, were being reported by consumers. The charge could also reference PLI Weblearn.

Brain Krebs, author of Krebs on Security, has advised consumers to report such fraud immediately to the card issuer. He said it’s also a good idea to request a new card even if the bank doesn’t suggest a new card on the spot. After all, if someone has your card number, odds are good that more fraud charges, big or small, could continue.

Beverly Harzog, a credit card expert and author of “Confessions of a Credit Junkie,” said consumers should not just wait for statements. They should also track their card activity online or through mobile banking as often as they can. By law, credit card victims can only be responsible for up to $50 but many card issuers have zero liability in the event of fraud.

Banks also offer mobile alerts that consumers can set up to alert them to specific types of account activity, including debit card transactions.

Granted, it can be a hassle to actually switch credit card numbers, especially if you have the electric bill or the gym membership automatically deducted from your credit card account. When the number changes, you must alert the company that’s taking an automatic payment so you aren’t hit with extra late fees or charges for missed payments.

Even so, Levin said some consumers might want to request a card number change if they spot more than one or two fraud charges.

“It never hurts to be proactive and even a little paranoid,” Levin said.



—Watch those statements and e-mails to avoid fraud and high charges.

—Be on the lookout for phishing scams, too. Scammers could pose as people trying to alert you of a scam and get you off guard to give out more information.

—At times, consumers can unknowingly sign up for gray charges that are legal but costly. You might sign up for one service and not realize you’re also agreeing to pay for another product, too. Or you might sign up for a free trial period but then get charged a fee quickly. Pay attention to the rules of any program and read your statements to cancel unwanted services quickly.

—Take advantage of free credit-monitoring services that are offered by various retailers hit by security breaches, including Michaels Stores.

SOURCE: Detroit Free Press research



Susan Tompor is the personal finance columnist for the Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at stompor@freepress.com.


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