The words “security breach” used to be limited to James Bond movies. Now, it seems like we hear them all the time – often in reference to our credit card accounts! That’s because when criminals hack a card processing system – like they did at Global Payments, which affects Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express – they can steal millions of account numbers at once. So, here’s how to reduce your risk and protect your personal information:

  • Watch the mail for your statement. According to the FBI, thieves often change the billing address on an account. And if you don’t get your bill, you may forget about it. So, you won’t notify your card company and the thieves can then go crazy, using your card.

  • If and when your statement does arrive, go over it with a fine tooth comb. Thieves who steal millions of credit card numbers are looking for a big payoff – but they start small. In other words, they may charge a dollar here or .50 cents there, for several months, to see who reads their bill and who doesn’t. Then they go after the people who don’t pay attention.

  • Monitor your credit report. All 3 national credit reporting companies are required by law to provide you with one free report each year. If you spot a problem, ask them to put a fraud alert and a security freeze on your credit information. That way, the only person who can do a credit check – or open a new credit card – is you.