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Shoppers Beware: Target was not the only retailer hacked!

The repercussions of the security breach on Black Friday that compromised the credit and debit numbers and other personal information of up to 110 million customers continue to unfold. Neiman Marcus reported a similar security breach in early January 2014.

On January 17, six additional major retailers were found to have suffered major security breaches; as of yet, their identities have not been revealed.

Last week, the security firm IntelCrawler initially identified a 17-year-old Russian male as the person responsible for the software used in the attack on the retailers. On January 20, the firm updated its findings by saying that the 17-year-old Russian was probably not solely responsible for the attack; a Ukrainan resident may have written the malware used to breach retailers’ security and shared it with others. InterCrawler believes that the first version of the malware was created in March 2013, and since then more than 40 versions have been sold and used around the world. The malware was used to breach the security systems of retailers in Australia and Canada before reaching the U.S.

What can you do if you are one of the millions of customers whose personal information was stolen when the retailer you were patronizing was hacked? Your Denver personal injury attorney advises that the first thing to do is check your credit or debit card statements daily for any fraudulent transactions. Even better, get a new credit or debit card and choose a new PIN. On January 14, JP Morgan announced that it is replacing 2 million credit and debit cards due to the hack. Other major issuers such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo are reissuing cards that they believe are “at risk of” fraud, and American Express said it has replaced a “small number” of cards–mostly at the request of customers. Citibank confirmed it is replacing debit cards affected by the hack.

Your Denver personal injury attorney warns that debit cards are especially risky because they are linked directly to your bank account; if the card is hacked, so is your account. Consequently, debit cards are a big target for hackers because of cash withdrawals. Furthermore, when a debit card is used for a fraudulent transaction, unless you notify the card issuer within 48 hours of the transaction, your liability increases from the $50 that applies to credit cards (under the Fair Credit Billing Act) to $500, because debit cards are not protected by the Act.

Aside from getting new credit or debit cards, some people affected by the breach are joining class-action lawsuits. Two class-action lawsuits have already been filed, and one more is waiting to be granted class-action status. Joining a class-action suit may or may not be in your best interest, however. If you are one of the customers whose personal information was stolen and used–i.e. who truly suffered identity theft–your damages could exceed what your share would be as a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit. On the other hand, if you are not aware of any actual information being stolen or used, but have suffered in terms of inconvenience, anxiety, card replacement, etc., then opting into a class-action lawsuit may be a good method of recovery for those damages.

Your best course of action is to discuss your options with your Denver personal injury attorney at Levine Law. Call today for a free consultation. 

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