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Posted on September 3, 2014 by in Data Breach & Technology, Identity & Privacy, Personal

Have Identity Thieves Found the Right Tool for The Right Job… Again?

September 9, 2014 Update: Home Depot has confirmed the suspected data breach of its United States and Canadian locations. and Mexican stores were not affected, according to the company. There are over 2,000 store locations in the United States and Canada, and the breach is reportedly spanning all the way back to April of 2014. Home Depot is offering identity protection services to anyone suspecting identity theft, but here’s what you can do to help prevent anything like this happening to you. Remember, if you are a Home Depot card holder and suspect fraudulent activity may have taken place, contact Home Depot’s customer care department right away at 1-800-HOMEDEPOT.

Scroll to the bottom of this infographic to see the top 10 things you can do to help prevent id theft.

On the heels of high-profile data attacks on retailers like Target and Neiman Marcus, Home Depot announced on Tuesday that its stores may have been the victim of a potentially huge data breach.  “I can confirm we are looking into some unusual activity and we are working with our banking partners and law enforcement to investigate,” Home Depot spokesperson Paula Drake told security researcher Brian Krebs.

The key word here is “may.”  It’s scary to think that even an organization as big as Home Depot wouldn’t actually know whether or not this activity occurred. I guess that just goes to show you how sophisticated identity thieves can be.

Can New Card Technology Stop The Leaks?

Staying ahead of the bad guys is never easy, but technology can help… at least for a little while. These latest data breaches have helped convince banks to accelerate issuance of safer credit and debit cards. The new cards are embedded with computer chips that create unique transaction codes—making them safer than traditional magnetic strip cards. Even though most people don’t have access to these new cards, Wal-Mart has deployed terminals capable of reading them in more than 4,600 stores. But it’s only a matter of time until even the best technology gets hacked. Don’t just take it from me, here’s what Mark Horwedel a former Wal-Mart payments executive had to say about the subject, “It’s virtually impossible for merchants to plug all the holes in our current payment system, and that’s why you’re seeing these breaches occur on a fairly regular basis.”

How Big Could The Home Depot Breach Be?

Some security experts believe that if Home Depot has been compromised, the activity could have occurred as far back as May 2014. If that turns out to be true, this incident could end up being even bigger than the attack that cost Target more than $146 million in damages. So what’s the bottom line? Stay tuned here—we’ll post updated information as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime, if you’ve shopped at Home Depot recently, check your credit or debit card receipts carefully.  And if you suspect fraudulent activity may have taken place, contact Home Depot’s customer care department right away at 1-800-HOMEDEPOT.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Mike Mozart.