1. This always sucks. Glad it was successfully resolved.

    But I don’t use debit cards to pay for anything. It is either a credit card or cash.

    In addition, I have a separate checking account that is not at the same bank as primary accounts. If I need cash I’ll take it from that account and I can always replenish it with a simple ACH transfer.
    For example, this path was a great comfort to use while traveling in Italy, Austria, Spain to get cash from almost any ATM.

  2. Some of the skimmers are pretty obvious you should look and see if looks right. Also I would run a good malware analysis program on your computer to make sure you did not accidentally download some type malware and that is where the leak came from.

  3. “2)Use non-sensical answers to challenge questions. Websites often ask for challenge questions, but by answering the questions with your mom’s actual maiden name makes it easy for crooks to find out this information. Use random strings as challenge questions.”

    This is huge. I wrote the director of security about the “challenge” questions at my online credit union. Response? Nothing. They failed to understand how my random 50 character form entry password was more secure than their “guess one of these 12 answers” questions.

    It just makes me want to drop all kinds of expletives, but HOW ARE THESE PEOPLE IN SECURITY?!?

  4. Your step one should be
    Never use a debit card for purchases!.

    I keep an ATM only card from my bank to get cash. You have to request these when you open your account, as the default option is a debit card.

    Although the ATM card could be skimmed, the number is useless for online purchases. Plus if the ATM card is lost/stolen it cannot be used without the PIN. If your debit card is stolen, it can be used anywhere until you report it lost.

    Consider store cards: The Target breach did not affect their store credit and debit cards. I maintain both and they offer an instant 5% discount which beats any cash back or frequent flyer point rewards. I use their debit card if I need cash back.

    The only time to use a debit card is to get a checking cash advance from a teller when you need more than the ATM will allow.

  5. My identity was stolen back in Jan. I got calls from various financial institutions informing me that someone had tried opening accounts in my name/SSN. Fortunately they haven’t gone after any of my personal accounts, yet. I had to get a freeze put on my credit reports so that any attempt to open any kind of account will not work without me verifying it. I also filled out a police report, which seemed useless. In an unrelated issue someone recently made a copy of my Marriott Visa card and made a bunch of purchases at Red Lobster and KFC near my house(such a big spender!). Chase reimbursed me for all those.

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