In Shakespeare’s play Henry V, the king utters the phrase, “once more unto the breach, dear friends,” and so it is, because once more we have learned of a massive data breach at the Hy-Vee supermarket chain of 245 supermarkets across the Midwest involving more than 5.3 million people in 35 states.  The data breach appears to have originated in gas pumps, coffee shops and restaurants operated by Hy-Vee.  The restaurants include Hy-Vee Market Grilles, Market Grille Expresses and Wahlburgers.  The data breach apparently was in their card processing systems and affected the credit and debit cards where the vulnerable magnetic stripe technology was used rather than the more secure chip technology.  We don’t know when the data breach occurred, but the stolen cards are already appearing on the Dark Web for sale for prices of from $17 to $35 per card.

TIPS

If you have been a customer at any Hy-Vee operated business, you should check your credit card or debit card statements carefully for any indication of fraudulent use of your card.  Under federal law, the holder of a credit card used for fraudulent purposes cannot be assessed more than $50 for such use and most credit card companies charge nothing, but it is important to report any improper use of your card to your credit card issuer promptly. However, the potential liability of a person whose debit card has been compromised can reach the entire bank account tied to the card if the card owner does not report the crime promptly and even if the card owner does report the theft promptly, the debit card owner’s access to his or her own bank account is frozen while the bank investigates the crime.  It is for this reason that consumers should refrain from using their debit cards for anything other than an ATM card. Use a credit card for all of your card purchases to achieve greater consumer protection.  In addition, you should regularly monitor the bank account tied to your debit card in order to discover as soon as possible if fraudulent use of your debit card has occurred so that you can report it to the bank and limit your liability.

Even if you were not affected by this data breach, you should consider this data breach as an opportunity to consider how protected you are from future data breaches.  Regular monitoring of your credit card and debit card usage is very important for everyone.

If you have not yet frozen your credit with each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, you should do so now to protect yourself from possible identity theft. It is free and easy to do.

To get the maximum protection from identity theft, it is important to freeze your credit at each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Here are links to each of them with instructions about how to get a credit freeze:
https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp
https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze
https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

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