Several retail chains have reported data-security breaches since the holiday season, with Michaels now adding its name to the list of stores. Anyone who uses credit or debit cards may have their personal or credit information compromised, even from customer mailing lists. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently published tips to help spenders protect themselves from fraud.
Consumers should review their accounts regularly, according to the CFPB advisory, checking frequently online or at least reviewing their monthly printed statements. Thieves often test accounts by making small purchases first, so consumers should be aware of inexpensive, unfamiliar purchases as well as major expenditures. This can occur months after an actual data breach. Consumers also may want to change their PINs, even if just as a precaution. If there is any fraud suspected, cardholders should alert the bank or card provider immediately. Individuals also should be aware of phishing scams that ask for account information by mail or email.