Identity Theft

Possible Data Breach at Goodwill: What Should You Do?

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Goodwill Industries International is investigating a series of apparent data breaches at its stores across the country, KrebsOnSecurity reports. If confirmed, it would be the latest in a slew of credit-card data breaches at major U.S. companies in the last several months, including P.F. Chang’s, Michaels, Sally Beauty Supply, Neiman Marcus and Target.

What We Know So Far

Goodwill, which has 2,900 retail locations across the U.S., hasn’t confirmed the breach but is working with the U.S. Secret Service to look into financial institutions’ reports of suspicious activity on credit and debit cards used at Goodwill locations. The stores collect and sell clothing and household-item donations, using the proceeds to support training and services for people seeking stronger finances and jobs, credentials or degrees.

The company first learned of a possible breach on July 18, Goodwill said in a statement to security blogger Brian Krebs, but his sources at financial institutions say the incidents may go back to mid-2013. The number of stores and cards potentially affected remains unknown, but Krebs’ sources have reported fraudulent activity on cards used at Goodwill stores in at least 21 states.

How You Should Respond

As the investigation continues, consumers should check their financial statements for signs of suspicious activity. If someone has acquired your credit- or debit-card data, you may see fraudulent transactions on your account statements, and you should report them to your card issuer immediately. Consumers are generally not held liable for such purchases, but the protections on credit and debit cards differ, as do the protections for business credit cards.

Given the prevalence of data breaches, consumers would be smart to make a habit of checking their card activity regularly and frequently, because the more often you look, the less likely it is you’ll overlook an unauthorized charge. Gone unaddressed, thieves can rack up serious debt on your credit cards, which can wreck your credit, at least temporarily. Here’s an explainer on how to monitor your credit after a data breach.

In addition to transactional monitoring, you can use your credit score as a fraud detector — by checking your credit score regularly, you’ll notice sudden changes, which could indicate fraud or identity theft. Using the free tools on Credit.com, you can get two credit scores every month and other insights into your credit standing.

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