Should I cancel my credit or debit card and get a new number?
The safest answer is yes. While banks are monitoring all the stolen cards carefully, and under federal regulations and company policy you will be able to get your money back or zap unauthorized charges, fighting them can be a hassle.
"If it was my debit card, I would probably cancel it,"said Avivah Litan, a fraud analyst at technology research company Gartner."I don't like anyone going into my bank account." Even temporary fraudulent charges on a debit account can lead to unexpected fees and bounced checks, requiring even more work to untangle.
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Could this lead to identity theft? How can I protect myself?
Conceivably,yes, though not right away and the odds are longer. Data thieves can resell their plunder on the global black market. It can be recombined with other public and stolen data to piece together parts of your identity to open up credit cards, cellphones and even take out a home loan in your name.
For maximum protection, you can contact one of the three credit reporting agencies and put a security freeze on your credit report. That means no one can access your credit information without your prior written authorization. It can also mean a hold-up for you when trying to apply for a job, mortgage, or if you like to get a discount by opening an in-store credit card. A less drastic approach is a fraud alert, which will let the agencies know to give requests for your credit report information more scrutiny without outright stopping it. That also can lead to some delays.
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