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The news keeps getting worse for Citigroup.
In late June, the financial services group — and large provider of credit cards — announced that customers whose account information was stolen in a major data breach discovered in May have lost an astounding $2.7 million.
This figure shows just how devastating these major data breaches have become. Credit card holders are losing an alarming amount of money because of them.
Citigroup reported that about 3,400 of its customers who had their credit-card information stolen suffered these losses.
And as serious as this is, the financial fallout could have been much worse: Cyber criminals had actually gained access to more than 360,000 credit-card accounts of Citi customers in the United States. Hackers were able to nab these customers’ credit card numbers, names and contact information.
In other words, the losses could have been far more severe.
There’s nothing you can do to prevent your credit card data from being stolen in a widespread security breach. Sure, you can do without credit cards and live a cash-only lifestyle. But few customers can make this work today.
The real impact that consumers can have comes after a data breach has been discovered. In most of these breaches, hackers take the information they glean and try to victimize credit-card holders through phishing schemes.
Most phishing works like this: You’ll receive an e-mail that looks like it came from Citigroup — or another major financial services company or bank — asking you provide account information and other personal data such as your Social Security Number or bank routing number. If you provide this information, the scammers will quickly drain funds from your bank account.
There’s an easy way to protect yourself from phishing: Never provide financial information in response to an e-mail. Any e-mail you receive asking for your important financial data, no matter how reputable it looks, is a scam. Simply put, your bank will never send you an e-mail message asking for your account numbers, Social Security number, routing number or other important information.
If the alarming number of data breaches lately have any silver lining, it is this: They are at least pounding home the message once again that consumers must take care with their financial information.