Fred's data breach: protecting your payment card data - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Protecting your payment card data in the wake of Fred's data breach

Fred's data breach: protecting your payment card data

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

Fred's Super Dollar dodged a big bullet.

The Memphis-based retailer said it nipped a major breach of customer data in the bud before it got out of hand.

The retailer's cyber-security vendor discovered someone installed a program to copy customers' card data from two of the company's computer servers between March 23 and April 24. The malware program was designed to cull customers' debit/credit card numbers, expiration dates and 3-digit security codes.

"Upon learning that banks had identified a pattern of unauthorized charges on payment cards after those cards were used in some of our stores, Fred's immediately launched an investigation, notified law enforcement and engaged a leading cyber-security firm to identify the issue and prevent it from continuing," read an e-mail statement from Fred's.

Fred's customers who believe their payment cards may have been compromised can click on the company's page addressing the breach here.

Jeff Horton, data security expert and owner of data security auditing company One Point Solutions Group, LLC, of Germantown, Tennessee, recommended checking your bank and credit card statements for unusual charges. If there are any, cancel the cards and request replacements. 

If your cards are ever compromised, contact your bank, credit card companies and the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion). Request a free credit report from each of the bureaus at File a police report with your local law enforcement agency.

You should then consider a credit monitoring service, but only a service backed by one of the credit bureaus. For as little as $8 a month, a monitoring service will send you e-mail alerts about opened accounts, closed accounts and address changes. It will even alert you when a credit or loan balance has increased or decreased a certain percentage.

Horton also suggested putting a freeze on your credit reports if you don't plan to apply for a loan or credit in the near future. "By freezing your credit report, it creates a wall that people have to go through, and it makes it more difficult for people to open accounts and things like that," Horton said. "It's a great preemptive strike, if you will, to keep people from stealing your information."

A freeze usually lasts 90 days and is renewable. You can lift a freeze from your credit report, typically with a password or PIN. 

If you choose a credit report freeze, start with Equifax. It will automatically arrange a freeze on your reports with Experian and TransUnion, too. You don't have to contact each bureau separately.

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