Credit Cards, Smart Spending

Beware of Identity Theft on Cyber Monday

Now that the holiday shopping season is underway, make sure you exercise good caution when making your online purchases.  As online shopping becomes more popular, so does identity theft and other kinds of cyber crime.  Last month hackers compromised 63 of the approximately 7,000 card readers at Barnes and Noble stores across the country.  While the usual method of stealing credit card numbers is to install a small mechanical device known as a skimmer, the hackers in this case did not use this tactic.  Instead they used credit cards that were infected with malware which was subsequently uploaded to the card readers.  As a precaution all the readers were taken offline in order to protect those shopping at Barnes and Noble.  The company did confirm that those shopping online or at the college stores did not have their identity compromised, and shopping on Nook was also safe. But for those who have shopped there recently, what should you do?

In order to keep your identity safe you should monitor your credit card and bank statements regularly.  Make sure you know what you are buying, and make sure you know when there is a charge on the card that you did not authorize.  Especially at this time, get online and check your statement.  Find the purchase you made at Barnes and Noble and make sure the subsequent purchases are all those that have been authorized.  If there is no fraudulent activity yet, you are most likely safe.  It may be best to call your card company and cancel the card just to be on the safe side.

If you find you have been a victim of fraud, call your credit card provider or bank as soon as possible.  Cancel the card and have the company send you a form to have the fraudulent charges wiped from your account.  While different card companies have different procedures, this should not be a difficult process.  If you find it to be so, it may be time to look for a different company to work with.

Going forward you can still shop at Barnes and Noble.  While the pin pads have been removed, the cashier can still swipe your card.  If you are feeling nervous, using cash will help you keep your identity the safest.  While credit cards and debit cards both have fraud protection, it is important to know that credit cards often provide the most protection.  When a debit card is used fraudulently the funds are gone from your account.  It can take a while to get them put back in.  With a credit card, on the other hand, you are not liable for any of the fraudulent purchases or the interest that would accumulate on the unpaid charges.

Unfortunately for those of us who play by the rules, there are those who like to take advantage of others for their own personal gain.  Finding out that you have been the victim of a scam is one of the worst feelings.  By being diligent and monitoring your card activity you can minimize the risk you incur while shopping.  But it is important to know that no matter how much care you take, some people will find a way to commit fraud.  It is not your fault, and this latest scam was not Barnes and Noble’s fault.  The only thing you can do is make sure you have not been hit, and act quickly if you have been.