Eleven people were recently indicted on multiple charges of fraud and identity theft after stealing more than 41 million credit and debit card numbers, according to Associated Press. The 11 who stole the credit and debt information by hacking into the wireless networks of some of the nation’s largest retailers.
It is believed to be the largest hacking and identity theft case ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice. The charges include conspiracy, computer intrusion, fraud and identity theft.
“While technology has made our lives much easier it has also created new vulnerabilities,” U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan said in a statement. “This case clearly shows how strokes on a keyboard with a criminal purpose can have costly results.”
They used sophisticated computer hacking techniques, that would allow them to breach security systems and install programs that gathered enormous quantities of personal financial data, which they then allegedly either sold to others or used themselves, and in total, they caused widespread loses by banks, retailers, and consumers.
After the credit card information was stolen it was either sold or encrypted onto credit cards and used to make purchases and withdraw money from ATMs.
Of those charged, three were Americans and one was a U.S. Secret Service informant.
While the reports don’t reveal how consumers can know if they were affected, there are ways you can find out. Start by checking your credit card and checking account billing statements, especially if you shopped in any of the stored mentioned. If notice charges you didn’t make dispute them with your creditor.
Since the theft involved stolen credit and debt card numbers, it’s unlikely that your identity was abused, but it doesn’t hurt to check. Free credit reports are available through annualcreditreport.com. 10 Ways to Prevent, Detect, and Fight Identity Theft lists other ways you can find out if your identity has been stolen and tells you what steps to take if you’ve been a victim.
If you see fraudulent charges on any of your accounts, you need to report them within two days.
Do that and your liability is only $50, wait two months and your liability is unlimited.