September 30, 2014
Heather Bearfield, National Technology Assurance Services Practice Group Leader, Featured in Crain's Chicago Business Article, "Let's Face It: Your Data's as Good as Hacked. So, Now What?"
By Fareeha Ali
OK, so maybe the idea that your precious banking information is freely floating around on the Internet for anyone to see is a bit of an exaggeration. But only just.
In the wake of data breaches at Jewel-Osco, Jimmy John's and Home Depot Inc. - not to mention earlier slip-ups at Target Corp., Neiman-Marcus Group Ltd. and Michaels Stores Inc. - consumers can hardly be blamed for being uneasy. Still, there are things you can do to protect yourself.
Although businesses are beefing up preventive measures in the wake of the latest round of hacks, consumers shouldn't count on them to prevent future data theft. "Data breaches are a trend now because vulnerabilities exist," said Heather Bearfield, group leader of national technology assurance services at New York accounting firm Marcum LLP. "People are not properly protecting against them."
Ms. Bearfield said steps like these, while simple, are a good place for consumers to start arming themselves against cyber-thieves:
Choose credit over debit. Debit cards are generally more vulnerable to break-ins than their credit card brethren.
Paranoia is your friend. Check your banking statements constantly. The data breach at Champaign-based Jimmy John's came to light after customers noticed fraudulent spending on their accounts, Ms. Bearfield said. Eventually, it was noted that many fraud reports were being traced back to purchases at Jimmy John's locations. Keeping a close eye on your account can save you and fellow consumers.