Holidays are stressful enough, and now a lot of us who diligently shopped til we dropped face another dilemma: Target suffered a debit and credit card security breach, potentially effecting nearly all of Target’s 1,797 stores in the United States. Because worrying about getting another shitty fruitcake from Aunt Helen or unironically ugly sweater from Uncle Steve wasn’t enough, right?
Here’s how to deal if you’re one of the zillions of people who shopped at Target and used a credit or debit card between November 27 and December 15:
Check your credit card or bank account statement.
You should do this more often anyway this time of year because it’s when fraud goes way up. If you see anything sketchy–even something as small as a pack of gum–report it immediately. Identity thieves often start small to test the waters, then work their ways up. If you see anything funky, call your bank and have them cancel your card and send you a new one. Per federal law, if there’s a security breach, your liability is zero.
Check in with credit bureaus.
Alert credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion about the fraudulent activity on your account as soon as you discover it. They’ll place a fraud alert on your account, which will let lenders know they need to take extra steps to verify your identity should you apply for anything.
Wait about a month and check your credit report.
Most people need to do this more often anyway, but this time it’s for a specific reason: to make sure there’s nothing wonky in your name. (The extra time gives credit bureaus a chance to find and report new transactions.)
Next time you shop, hit “credit” instead of “debit”–or use cash.
Debit cards don’t have the same protections as credit cards. Don’t get stuck!