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If you’re one of the 77 million or so members of the recently breached PlayStation Network, or the 24.5 million members of Sony Online Entertainment, you may be worried about the safety of your data. Rightly so, since these hackers had access to millions of names, addresses, usernames and passwords, and credit card information, and yours may have been one of the ones stolen.
It is unclear whose info, or even how many users’ info, was obtained. Some users on underground websites have claimed to have the credit card information of 2.2 million Sony members which they were trying to sell.
This may be a scam, but it is also possible that the information is legitimate.
Sony has not announced whether or not this is true. Sony did admit, however, that the credit card information and banking information of some 23,000 European customers was likely compromised.
Due to the attack, Sony has arranged for FREE identity theft protection for U.S. members of its PlayStation Network.
If you created an account before April 20th and are a U.S. resident, you can get this identity protection free for twelve months.
This is a great deal, and since it’s at no cost to you, you should sign up if you’re eligible. This can help alleviate some of the fears you may have from knowing your account information may have been leaked. You can sign up at this site: http://us.playstation.com/news/consumeralerts/identity-theft-protection/.
Sony has said that it will notify the victims whose credit or debit card information was likely accessed, but there are millions more who may have been affected. Although it is hard to know if it was your information that was leaked, there are things you can do to protect yourself.
The first, if you are a U.S. resident, is to sign up for the free identity protection service that Sony has offered. Besides that, watch your account closely, and follow the tips below.
1. Keep a close eye on your credit or debit card statements.
Hopefully you already take a look at your account statements when they come in the mail or email each month, but many people don’t look closely at the information. This time, pay attention to the purchases on the bill. Take five or ten minutes to look at each transaction and see if it looks familiar.
This is a good habit to get into even if your information hasn’t been hacked.
If you have a joint account with your spouse, sit down with him or her and review the information. You don’t have to study it with a microscope, but look at the large purchases.
Do you remember making them, or even if you can’t quite recall, is it at least a store you shop at? If you haven’t been to the mall in months and there’s a purchase from Kay Jewelers, either you just ruined your hubby’s surprise, or somebody else is using your card information.
2. If a strange item appears on your statement, report it immediately.
Depending on whether it was your credit or debit card that was used fraudulently, you may be responsible for some of the fraudulent charges.
Generally, credit cards have the better protection, preventing you from losing any money if you report it right away. With debit cards, you could be responsible for $50, possibly more if you wait more than 48 hours. With either card type, however, it’s always best to report it as soon as you discover something amiss.
Reporting it includes calling the credit card company or bank and informing them of the problem. You can find the number on the back of your card or on the company’s website.
After sorting it out with them, you may want to call your local police department and file a police report, especially if you think this issue may affect your credit score. Having proper documentation will help you correct any errors on your credit report.
3. Consider having your account number changed.
This one is optional, but it may be worth it. Rather than obsessing over your statement every month, which could have dozens of items on it, you may want to call your credit card company and see if they will change your account number. It’s easier than closing an account, and avoids the nasty effect that a closed account can have on your credit score.
With all that said, be reminded that these are just precautions. Although Sony reported that credit card info may have been accessed, there’s no point in pulling your hair out over something that may not have even happened.
Even if your card is fraudulently used, as long as you report it to your credit card company or bank within a timely manner, your losses will be limited or nonexistent.