On June 9, 2011, Citigroup announced a massive data breach affecting potentially hundreds of thousands of its bankcard customers. The data lost includes consumers’ names, account numbers, email addresses, and potentially other contact information such as home address. This information is highly sensitive and can be used in a variety of malicious ways to access your personal accounts and services. Citigroup found the data breach during routine monitoring, but believes that the breach occurred in May of 2011, putting the data in the hands of third party hackers potentially for weeks.
Data breaches like the one affecting Citigroup can lead to fraudulent charges, identify theft and damages to a consumer’s credit score. While Citigroup has announced that it will issue thousands of new cards, there is a high risk that damage or access to your accounts may have already occurred.
Therefore, if you have a Citigroup bank card it is vital that you act quickly to ensure that your information is safe. First, check your account to ensure that no fraudulent or suspicious charges have been made. Second, contact Citigroup as soon as possible and request new card and account information. You should ask the Citigroup customer service representative to inform you if your account was exposed and what they are doing to protect your information.
Third, you need to remain vigilant about any suspicious emails that arrive in the email account you had with Citigroup. If you receive any email that claims to be from Citigroup asking for account information or a password, be very cautious and contact Citigroup. This is practice known as “phishing” and is a prime method for the hackers to acquire more information. There is a high probability that the email is fraudulent and result of your email being in the hands of a malicious third party after the data breach. Also be on the look out for emails from people you know that are requesting information about your Citigroup account or asking you to click on a website link. This is a practice known as “spear-phishing” and can likewise lead to the collection of more sensitive information.
Finally, if you experience a fraudulent charges, identify theft, or any other problems you believe are related to the Citigroup data breach, report it. You can report it to Scambook, the Better Business Bureau, your state’s attorney general, or even the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC) who regulates banks. This will reduce the prevalence of such data breaches in the future and force banks like Citigroup to ensure it has the proper security measures in place to protect your sensitive personal information.
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