What To Do After A Data Breach

First there was the Target data breach affecting as many 110 million people. Then there was the Neiman Marcus data breach that hit over 1.1 million credit card holders.  And the latest warning about a breach comes from the Texas-based arts and crafts retailer Michaels Stores.

Clearly, this is a big problem that requires our individual vigilance.

Did you know?

Federal law and other rules say consumers are generally not responsible for unauthorized debits or charges to credit or debit card accounts, as long as they report them quickly to their bank or card providers.

That’s why it’s important to stay on top of your accounts. To help, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued an alert that offers useful advice:

  • Monitor accounts for unauthorized charges or debits.


  • Regularly review accounts online if possible, and at a minimum examine monthly statements closely.


  • Report even small problems immediately. Some thieves may process a small charge or debit just to see if the account is live or whether the consumer notices.


  • Be aware that fraudulent charges may occur many months after information is stolen.


  • Even if you think the PIN on your debit card was not stolen, consider changing the PIN to be on the safe side.


  • Alert your bank or card provider immediately if you suspect fraud.


  • Alert your bank or card provider immediately if you suspect an unauthorized debit or charge.


  • If you find  fraudulent charges, ask the card provider to close access to the account and issue a new card before more transactions come through.


  • Follow up with the bank or card provider and maintain records. Call the bank or credit card provider first, also ask about how you can follow up in writing. Make sure you keep a copy of your correspondence.

If you don’t like the way your bank is handling things, the CFPB says,If consumers are unsatisfied with how their bank or card provider responds to a report of fraudulent charges, they can submit a complaint to the CFPB. Card providers should investigate charges and respond quickly. Consumers have a right to see the results of the bank’s or card company’s investigations.”

You can file a complaint at  www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint, or by phone (855) 411-CFPB (2372) or TTY/TDD phone number at (855) 729-CFPB (2372), or

by fax  (855) 237-2392, or      

by letter to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, P.O. Box 4503, Iowa City, Iowa 52244

Published by

Barbara Nevins Taylor

As the winner of 22 Emmy Awards and a slew of journalism honors and awards, I created ConsumerMojo.com to give you the straight story about complicated stuff. Tell us what you want to know and we'll get you the answers.