By Michael Schreiber
Shop at Zappos? Then chances are you’re one of 24 million customers whose personal information may have been compromised in a security breach at the popular online retailer.
Hackers gained access to customers’ names, phone numbers, addresses and the last four digits of their credit card numbers in an attack on the company’s servers in Kentucky, according to The Associated Press. The company, owned by Amazon.com, is contacting customers by email and encouraging them to change their passwords.
1) Fortify passwords. Create “strong” passwords for online retailers and personal email accounts. The passwords should have numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and symbols. For example, “7Catz$$?” is better than “7777.”Identity Theft 911 experts offer these additional tips for Zappos customers to protect their online accounts.
2) Divide and conquer. Use different passwords for work and personal email accounts, bank accounts and online retailers. If a hacker cracks one password, he won’t have access to others.
3) Go old school. Use grade school or memory tricks to remember complicated passwords. For example, if you’re a fan of Pat Benatar, then you could turn “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” into the password “Hmwybs2!” that includes a number and a symbol.
4) Don’t get personal. Avoid using personal information, such as a birthday, mother’s maiden name, a pet’s name or other trivia that can be gleaned from social networking sites.
5) Be aware of phishy emails. Zappos is communicating with customers by email. Sometimes emails that look official are from hackers trying to phish for your information. To be safe, go to the company’s website for the latest updates.
6) Check your credit reports. Check your credit reports as frequently as possible, at least twice a year. Ask for a 3-in-1 merged credit report with a summary from all three credit bureaus. Under the federal FACT Act, consumers are entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the major agencies. For details, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877.322.8228.
If you suspect your identity has been stolen, call your insurer and your bank. Also be sure to file a police report at your local precinct, and a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
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