The Home Depot breach was even larger than the pre-Christmas breach Target experienced in 2013. In the Target breach, an estimated 40 million customers were affected. Other retailers and businesses have also been hit by hackers. These retailers include Neiman Marcus, Michaels, Staples, P.F.Chang’s, UPS, Sally’s Beauty Supply, Goodwill, and Kmart.
In January 2014, retailers were warned by the FBI to expect more breaches to occur, citing “POS malware” as a significant risk. Hackers got into Home Depot systems using a vendor’s log-on credentials, and then installed malware on hacked self-checkout registers. Although it has been eliminated from the systems since it was detected, it ran undetected for months, and was designed to be able to evade anti-virus software.
What is Home Depot doing about this latest revelation to help customers? According to WLTX, “Home Deport said the e-mail addresses did not contain passwords, payment card information or other sensitive personal information. The company is notifying affected customers and offering credit monitoring, though it said, “In all likelihood this will not impact you.”
What can consumers do to help minimize their own risk for falling victim to future breaches of retailer or other company information? Forbes offers a few tips.
- When it comes to plastic, use an actual credit card rather than a debit card. Consumers have more protection with credit cards than they do with debit cards. In addition, a debit card is generally linked to a bank account.
- Don’t pay with plastic, at all. This means using Paypal, Apple Pay or cash.
- Keep a special email account for shopping-one that is separate from what you use with family and friends. This helps stop hackers from getting further than your “junk” email account.
More retailers are offering alternative payment options to customers, such as using Paypal or Apple Pay. But there are other options, as well. Walgreens accepts a variety of mobile payments from services such as Google Wallet and Softcard, in addition to Apple Pay.
Apple Pay, for example, is also accepted by McDonald’s, Macy’s, Texaco, Chevron, Nike, Office Depot, Toys “R” Us, Whole Foods and Subway.
Another option is to use cash to buy a prepaid credit card for specific shopping or purchases. Many can be reloaded as needed. A perk is that if a hacker steals the information, it is to a card that has a low or zero balance, and no link to a bank account.
(Photo courtesy of Mike Mozart)