The Target Data Breach Changed Nothing About How We Use Credit & Debit Cards

Remember a couple of years ago when the Target data breach was in the news? Here’s a refresher if you don’t. In December 2013, Target announced that hackers may have accessed 40 million credit and debit accounts used in their stores late that year.

With so many people affected, it would seem logical that consumer behaviors around card usage might have changed. Turns out, that isn’t the case, according to a recent report by Claire Greene and Joanna Stavins of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Greene and Stavins looked at survey data collected by the Survey of Consumer Payment Choice (SCPC) before the breach and then after consumers were made aware of the hack. In the survey, consumers were asked about the security of their personal information tied to debit cards and, on average, they saw it as 11.3% less safe after the Target breach.

Based on this information, the authors expected to see a decline in debit card usage. However, the authors reported “no statistically significant change in the adoption or shares of payment instrument use of debit cards in the long run.” Meaning, they don’t believe the Target breach announcement caused any long-term affects on how people use their plastic.

What to Do If Your Information Is Stolen

It’s generally a good idea to keep a close eye on your credit card statements for any suspicious activity. (Tip: make sure you’re doing this through a secure Internet connection so you don’t open yourself up to any additional threats.) If you spot fraud, report it to your issuer right away and, if your card gets lost or stolen, it’s in your best interest to call up your issuer and have the card replaced with new account numbers.

If your personal information gets compromised during a data breach (or otherwise), it’s a good idea to check your credit scores for sudden changes, like a sudden score drop or unfamiliar accounts in your name, as these are signs of identity theft. You can see two of your credit scores for free, updated each month, on Credit.com.

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Image: Steve Debenport

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