Michaels’ data breach has bred panic similar to that of Target’s 2013 breach–with good reason, over 3 million people were affected. If you shop at Michaels, you may be wondering what you should do–if you should worry about your account. Unfortunately, there is no short answer. Yes, you should worry, but at this point there is nothing you can do about who has your data. They are going to do what they are going to do with it. What you CAN do now is improve your defensive position to protect yourself from problems whether they stem from this breach or any future leaks or theft of your PII.
1. Change your credentials (passwords and other logon security controls) immediately. It’s unlikely you know exactly what was stolen, so do this on every account that might even remotely be tied to Target.
2. Make sure your credit card company allows you 90 or so days to switch numbers on “autopay” accounts. Generally, they recognize the repeating charges and will allow those to continue to process without interruption. But make sure first, just in case.
3. If you don’t travel a lot, you can “tighten” your spending profile with your credit card company so that charges from Paris or Shanghai will automatically be suspect. If you do travel a lot, an occasional call telling them where and when you’re traveling will keep your spending profile current.
4. Set up an email or text notification for suspicious activity while you’re talking to your credit card company.
5. With your regional or national credit reporting agencies, ask for a “Credit Block” or similar service. This means that no one can ask for a credit card or lease a car, for example, in your name. Access to your credit profile is restricted to you specifically authorizing it, if needed.