Mandan News

Keeping your credit card safe

Following the latest news report of another business losing credit information to theft, consumers are scrambling for answers on how to protect themselves.

“I, along with many other consumers, have been looking through receipts to see if I had shopped at the latest business victim during the dates information was stolen.” says Lori Scharmer, North Dakota State University Extension Service family economics specialist.

If you think your information has been stolen, here are steps you can take:
• Check your credit card activity online to see if there are any charges recorded that you or your family did not make. If you do not have an online account, contact your credit card provider to check your charges.
• If you use a debit card for purchases, you may check your online account through your bank or credit union to watch for any unauthorized activity.
• Immediately report any suspicious activity on your accounts, no matter how small. Thieves have been known to place small charges on a stolen credit or debit card to see if it is viable. If the transaction goes through, then they use the card for larger purchases.
• Contact your bank or credit union to see how it is handling the latest report of stolen data.

If your credit or debit card has been a part of the recent theft, you should be receiving a notice from your financial provider that a card with a new account number will be issued to you. Ask the company to waive any fees associated with sending you a replacement card as soon as possible.

Many consumers are questioning if they should cancel their credit and debit cards.

“If you think your card information was stolen, I would recommend contacting your credit or debit card company and have them issue a new card with a new number,” Scharmer says. “You maintain your account but the stolen card numbers no longer exist.”

If you obtain a new card and number, be sure to contact any businesses that receive an electronic payment regularly on your credit or debit card so they can update their records.

“As we come to the close of a busy holiday shopping season, not having a debit or credit card may be an inconvenience,” Scharmer says. “However, not having a card at this time of the year can be a positive because it may help to keep those January bills lower.”

Statistics show that consumers like the convenience of using credit or debit cards when shopping and trust businesses to keep their information safe.

“However, this isn’t the first business to fall victim to customer data theft and probably won’t be the last,” Scharmer says. “Credit card transactions give the consumer a level of protection that isn’t always available when using a debit card. A discussion and debate about the safety of debit card usage is sure to follow this latest breech of stealing consumers’ information.”