12 Investigates: Credit card account hackers

Published: Apr. 4, 2012 at 9:56 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 9, 2012 at 9:57 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As many as 1.5 million Mastercard and Visa numbers were compromised by hackers this month.

If you're one of the unlucky ones — the only way to know it is to watch your accounts closely.

It's the latest in a long line of data breaches.

Credit card hackers are on the move right now — if they have your card number, they can send sophisticated-looking emails and make small purchases to test whether you're watching your accounts closely.

"Check your online statement immediately," said Patrick Owens for ClearPoint Credit Counseling. "I know some people will wait for the paper statement. If it just happened and you're at the beginning of your cycle, you may not see it for three more weeks."

A simple check of your credit report is not going to help you in this situation. The hackers only got credit and debit card numbers.

"All they can use is that account," said Owens. "They can place it on a new magnetic strip, have pretty much a dummy card that they can use to check out online purchases to charge to your account."

You're not looking for new cards started in your name — you're looking for purchases on your current accounts that you did not make.

"If you see something on there that's going to cause any alarm, let the credit card company know immediately and they can freeze that purchase and may even offer you a new card with a new full account number."

Even though the security breach was out of your control, your creditors are going to expect you to point out any fraudulent activity.

Most credit card companies tell us customers are not liable for any unauthorized purchases made with their cards, but they need your help in spotting the fraud.

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