(WMC) - Here we go again: another big data breach.
The New York Times reports sophisticated global hackers have infiltrated the data systems of at least four banks, including JPMorgan Chase.
This latest breach sounds a lot like the Target department store breach. Except this time, we're talking banks. Customers' proprietary accounts. Lots of them -- and lots of personal information.
The same rules apply, though, when it comes to protecting your personal information:
* CHECK BOTH YOUR BANK AND CREDIT CARD STATEMENTS. Look for any unusual or unauthorized transactions. Dispute them immediately.
* PULL YOUR CREDIT REPORT. Check it for unusual activity. Federal law guarantees you a free one from each credit bureau (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion). Get them free in one stop, without hassle, at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
* CONSIDER A PASSWORD-PROTECTED SECURITY "FREEZE" ON YOUR CREDIT REPORT. It's cheap, and it'll keep sham accounts from being added to your report without your consent.
Here's one I used to tell viewers not to do, but I've changed my mind after a personal experience:
* CONSIDER A CREDIT MONITORING SERVICE. Consider only those offered by the credit bureaus. After all, they are the agencies that manage our credit reports in the first place. Be aware that one or more of them may not offer credit scoring -- and one or more may not be able to monitor reports on file with the other credit bureaus.
A few years ago, I received a free trial credit monitoring service through Experian. It caught a credit vendor's mistake that would have assigned someone else's Discover Card account to my credit report. It alerted me instantly via e-mail, and I was able to block the account.