Another day, another hack. People are starting to become numb to the news of computer security breaches. A fatalist attitude has started to seep into our culture—“if it’s my time, they are just going to get me no matter what I do.”
Not all breaches are the same. Each security breach should be put in perspective and met with some common sense precautions — and the recent JPMorgan Chase hacking is no different.
The overall extent of the Chase hacking is breathtaking — over 83 million customers were affected, both business and home users — and the fact that the hackers had been in the system for some time is equally disturbing. The hack was discovered in late July and not completely dealt with until mid-August.
However, in this case, only contact information was taken. Names, physical addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses were compromised, but not financial and personal information such as account numbers and Social Security numbers. This information is likely being sold to scammers who will fish (or phish, if you prefer) for the remaining information necessary to commit fraud.
Given this fact, here is what Chase cardholders should do.
- Be Alert for Scammers – With your contact information available, expect an increase in potential scams. They may be telephone scams with callers pretending to be representatives of the bank and needing further information on your account, e-mail messages that threaten your account, official-looking letters, or other creative varieties.
Any contact that you receive from the bank should be looked at skeptically. Hang up and call the bank to confirm that any contact is legitimate, and do not reply to e-mails.
- Review Your Social Media Information – Posting sensitive personal information on social media is always a bad idea, but especially so during times of higher risk.
Expect the scammers to do some homework on any of your public accounts such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. They may glean extra personal information that can assist them in opening an account in your name, or making a scam seem more legitimate through the information they have acquired.
- Check Your Statements – You should be doing this anyway, but if not, start checking your statements for any false charges or withdrawals. Do not focus only on large charges; often there is a small “test” charge to make sure the card is valid and that you are not paying sufficient attention to your account.
- Hold Off On Getting New Cards – At this point, there is no reason to get new cards, or to change your login identity. You should always be changing passwords on a regular basis, so stick with that schedule.
If you are not a Chase customer, you should not be resting easily, either. It has been reported that nine more financial institutions (yet unnamed) were hacked as part of the same breach. Other reports are likely to follow.
Keep in mind that these hacks are not publicized until after they are contained, unless they are so severe that they must be publicized to prevent immediate damage. After all, it took over a month after the JPMorgan Chase hack was halted (not to mention detected) before the public even got wind of it.
In summary, you should always be vigilant with respect to fraud and identity theft. The odds are that accounts of yours will be exposed to risk at some point, but keep things in perspective and react with the proper amount of caution. Do not let the hackers win in the end through panic and fear.
If you would like to monitor your credit to prevent identity theft and see your credit reports and scores, check out our credit monitoring service.