The last (for now) installment of our Target series of articles addresses the large repositories of credit card information such as eBay, Amazon, and of course credit card processors for MasterCard and Visa. They’re huge, they use computers and the Internet to conduct their business, and there’s a market for credit card account information; and…you guessed it: personally identifiable information (PII).
Yes, we’re talking about extremely well-known, successful companies who undoubtedly have the best computer and Internet security money can buy. However, those attributes also make them more of a target in terms of the high potential for huge sums of money to be stolen; and the bragging rights of having hacked such a well-known name and stolen, probably, record amounts of money. Remember, the cyber crime organizations have the very best “tools” to break into the most secure computers and websites.
We as customers and card holders, are the ultimate victims of such a crime. We are protected by the card companies from fraudulent online purchases because the card companies take the loss. But we are still victims because we suffer having our credit card cancelled and must deal with a new one; but more importantly, our credit record and scores are damaged by use of the credit card account by thieves who run up these purchases and make no payments for, sometimes, months or years before the fraud is discovered. It took me three years to get all three credit bureau services to correct my history and my credit score after having my card used fraudulently.
We can somewhat limit our exposure to credit card fraud by using a credit card with a low purchase limit for our online purchases; and monitoring our credit card transactions statement for unauthorized purchases, etc. Then, if fraud is suspected, call your credit card company immediately and have your account frozen.
The PII stolen is another story that involves new credit and debit card accounts being opened in your name, and purchases and withdrawals made against those accounts…that you’re responsible to pay. The resultant bad credit history and scores are similar to the credit card fraud discussed above. Neither of these scenarios are pleasant ones.
Be very careful…it’s dangerous out there.
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