News & Resources

Retailers need to prepare for data breaches

Feb 26, 2014 Dave King

With multiple retailers being hacked in the past couple months, those that haven't been hit yet would be wise to come up with a plan should they be targeted. Part of this should include having literature ready for customers should information be stolen, as losing banking information can do severe damage to consumer credit scores.

The following are some tips retailers can tell customers to take after a breach:

Call the credit card company
One of the first things that customers need to do after a breach is call the credit card company, according to U.S. News & World Report. This step should be completed whether or not there is suspicious activity on a customer's account, as banks can help prevent any future problems. For example, fraud monitoring is used to track any fraudulent activity. Failing to contact the bank can lead to significant issues in the future, such as a big drop to a credit score.

Check accounts for fraudulent activity
Another step that needs to be taken is to check all accounts - bank and credit cards. People need to go through their statements beginning when they shopped at the retailer that was breached to see if there is any suspicious activity, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Any problems - even small ones - should be reported right away. Even if it turns out to be a purchase that a customer forgot they made, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Contact credit bureaus
Simply calling the credit card company won't be enough. Customers involved in a breach also have to contract credit bureaus. This is because consumer credit scores could be in jeopardy. Experian, Equifax or TransUnion should be called so an alert can be put on the person's account who has been impacted. This can potentially make it easier for investigators to track the source of the breach.

Change account info online
Online shoppers who have stored any account information on websites should change it right away. This can help limit the number of places where credit card info is shared, potentially reducing the risk of a damaging incident. It may also be a good idea to unlink cards from bill pay sites.