It happened to Target, now it’s happened to Home Depot. Thieves have hacked into Home Depot’s computer system and stolen credit card and customer data from an estimated 60 million customers. According to Home Depot spokesperson, the breach did not include on-line purchases but in-store purchases from April of this year through last week may be at risk. This breach adds Home Depot to a growing list of large retailers whose security systems have failed to protect consumer information. Others include Neiman Marcus, P.F. Chang’s, Goodwill and U.P.S. This is a trend that is likely to continue so you, as a consumer, cannot afford to sit back and assume you won’t become a victim. You’ll need to develop a plan to proactively protect your financial data.
Your identity theft protection plan:
- You need to monitor all of your credit card, debit card, bank accounts and brokerage accounts. If you have a smart phone most financial institutions have an app that allows you to access your account quickly. I do a review of my accounts every couple of days, and it only takes a few minutes.
- If you made an in-store charge card purchase at Home Depot between April 1, 2014 and September 9, 2014 you are eligible for free credit monitoring through AllClear PRO Service (https://HomeDepotAllClearid.com). This is a 12-month service agreement.
- If you experience identity theft or unauthorized charges, AllClear ID has a team that will help you resolve the problems. Call them at 855-252-0908. Again, this is a free service provided by Home Depot.
The two offers above are available now through September 8, 2015 and identity theft insurance is included.
- According to Home Depot’s website, ‘be aware of phone calls or emails that appear to offer you identity theft protection but are truly phishing schemes designed to steal your information. Always go directly to The Home Depot’s website (www.HomeDepot.com) or to the AllClear ID website (www.AllClearID.com), or call Equifax (www.Equifax.com) for information rather than clicking on links in emails’.
Understand that these services are not a panacea and won’t prevent identity theft, but these monitoring services are quite good. I personally use this type of service and do get regular emails about my credit activity. I also signed up for Home Depot’s credit monitoring program and found it easy and quick to do. If you have any concerns about identity theft, I recommend that you sign up for the service and determine for yourself over the next twelve months if it’s a service worth keeping.
What’s most disturbing about the Home Depot breach is that it happened over a period of approximately five months before it was detected, and then it was a blogger, not Home Depot, that first alerted the public. There is already a class action law suit against Home Depot, and I suspect others will follow.
If you’d like to have me answer your financial question email me at email@example.com and place AL.com in the subject line. Consult your own professional legal, tax or financial advisor before acting upon this advice.