Sorry, Your Credit Card isn't Working

"I'm sorry, sir," said the Bill Miller's BBQ Restaurant window attendant. "Your card isn't working and there's an error that says you need to contact your bank." Since I had just checked my balance the night before, I knew that there wasn't anything wrong. Still, I dug for cash and managed to scrape up the $8.39 for my lunch.

Later, when I visited my bank's web site, I saw notice of the Home Depot breach. Although I make a habit of following data breaches, I didn't think that I'd been affected. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten that I'd only just visited Home Depot--an extremely rare visit--to pick up something needed for home improvement (to this day, I don't remember was that quick a visit). My credit card had been cancelled because my account was affected by the breach.
The hackers that got into Home Depot’s computers didn’t only steal 56 million credit card details, the company has recently discovered that they also got away with 53 million email addresses. According to the retailer, no passwords were stolen along with the email ads, but it still wants to warn customers, in case they receive some phishing emails in their inbox. So, if you have Home Depot-loving family or friends who aren’t as tech-savvy, make sure remind them not to click on dubious links sent to their emails and to activate two-factor authentication when available. 
Source: Home Depot Hackers Also Stole... 
In order to protect myself these days, I find myself taking strange steps to try and safeguard my financial data. Those steps include the following:

  1. RFID Protected Wallet: Picking up my first pair of running shoes in 8 years at the store, I bought one of those wallets that protects against a scanner reading your RFID enabled credit card. Of course, I don't have an RFID credit card on me so this is a moot purchase...I liked the wallet, though!
  2. Monitoring banks and credit cards: After trimming down the number of credit cards my family has, we have also gotten into the habit of monitoring our account balances. It's a bit of a pain but a necessary one.
  3. Free credit checks: One of my credit card providers is now sending monthly credit check reports to me. I shudder to think what I may have done to deserve this level of attention, but it certainly is helpful to know where I stand and if anything untoward is happening.
  4. Keep a digital, encrypted copy of all my cards that I have in my wallet: With a scanner, it's easy to capture all the details for your cards and ensure that no one has access to them. It goes without saying that any digital copies of financial details are encrypted and backed up.
  5. Carry and Use one credit card, rather than debit/credit card, for most purchases: In the old days, I would use whatever card was handy...usually my debit/credit card that connected to my bank account. Now, I'm switching to using one credit card that I can better control and won't affect finances. 
  6. Use a different email for finances than what I do for regular stuff. Although I have a Gmail account, which I use for quite a bit, I have slowly moved my financial management to another email system. And, of course, I have two-step verification enabled on everything.

And, carry as little as possible in case your wallet is mislaid or stolen. What else do you suggest or what are you doing to safeguard your hacked data?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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