So what can you do?
The short answer is: not much. Once there’s been a data breach, there’s no way to know for sure whether or not your card is one of the unlucky ones that will be exploited. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take action.
- 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 Home Depot.
- 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.
- 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.
- Set up an email or text notification for suspicious activity while you’re talking to your credit card company.
- If you use PayPal, especially if it’s tied to your bank or cards, change your credentials. You should also rethink whether you really need them tied together at all.
- 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.
Be aware. Take precautions. Stay informed!