Updated on 9/19/2014:
On September 18, 2014, Home Depot has confirmed that the malware used in the recent data breach has been eliminated from all of their U.S. and Canadian stores. No evidence was found that there was a compromise on the debit PIN numbers or checks. Home Depot also have completed a major payment security project which provides enhanced encryption of payment data at point of sale at all of their U.S. stores.
Starting September 19, 2014, Home depot will offer a free identity protection services for 12 months to customers who used a payment card at a Home Depot store from April 2014 until now.
Data breaches are occurring one after another at major retailers and if you’re one of the millions who makes frequent use of credit and debit cards, you probably don’t feel very safe. On September 8, 2014, Home Depot confirmed a debit card data breach in which hackers once again managed to run off with sensitive information. Whether or not you shop at Home Depot, Target, Michaels or any of the other retailers who were hit, the best way to protect yourself is by getting your debit card replaced.
This simple act will add an extra layer of security on your funds. Find out if you can get your debit card replacement for free at your bank.
Debit card replacement fee at banks
According to an August banking analysis by MyBankTracker.com, it will cost you anywhere from $0 to $7.50 to get a replacement card at the top 10 banks in the U.S. The price can go up to $30 for an expedited delivery.
In addition to being a hassle, the steep price to get a debit card replaced may be the reason why some customers hesitate to get their card replaced.
If you wish to be issued a new card without any evidence of fraud on your account, you will be charged the regular fee for replacing the card.
Request a new number
If you are getting your debit card replaced because you’d like to protect your account information from hackers, it’s important to get a card with a new number on it. You must explain this to your bank.
Your debit card number will not be automatically changed if your card was being replaced for not working properly from being old or worn out.
Banks are taking necessary precautions
In most cases, banks will close the account for you if it is as risk of being compromised. In fact, after the most recent breach at Home Depot, many banks are taking the necessary precautions to protect their customers and themselves from hackers. All of the 10 major banks in the U.S. will replace any debit cards if they have reason to believe it is in risk of being subjected to fraudulent activities. The bank will automatically block your current card immediately and re-issue a new card for you.
Citibank sent out a notification to customers about blocking current accounts to anyone who has previously used their cards at a Home Depot in the recent months. Customers who previously used their cards at Home Depot were issued a new card.
Banks waive this replacement fee for their customers
Three banks that charge a fee for a debit card replacement include Bank of America, PNC Bank and BB&T, but they are currently waiving all replacement fees.
Surprisingly, PNC Bank announced that they will waive the debit card replacement fee to all customers as long as the request is filed by September 19, 2014.
“This is the first time we have waived debit card replacement fees for all customers,” said Marcey Zwiebel, a PNC Bank spokesperson.
Usually, this fee is $7.50 for a customer with a standard checking account, which means PNC is shelling out millions to cover this cost. “We are doing everything we can to put our customers’ minds at ease and this is one tool we’re using to do that,” Zwiebel of PNC Bank responded.
Note that free replacements card are sent via USPS and are not expedited. You can continue to use your card until the new one arrives. Even though your old number will still be active, you will not be held responsible for any unauthorized charges made on it until the time you receive your new card.
What to do if you notice theft
Whether you made a purchase using your card at Home Depot in the last several months or not, you should be monitoring your credit cards and bank accounts extremely closely for unusual activities.
If you notice unauthorized charges on your account, you should contact your card issuer immediately to alert them of any fraudulent charges or withdrawals. Again, your card will be replaced for you at no cost to you.
How to limit your losses
Something called the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) offers protection if your ATM or debit cards are lost or stolen and limits your liability for unauthorized charges. Once you report the loss of your ATM or debit card, federal law protects you from being held liable for any unauthorized transfers that occur after that point.
After your report the unauthorized charges, it is recommended that you follow up with a letter or email. Include all necessary information such as your name, account name, the date and time when your noticed your card was missing, and when you first reported the loss. This follow-up letter will confirm that you reported the problem, but for this to be acceptable proof, you must send it be certified mail and get a return receipt, just in case.
If you report an ATM or debit card missing before the thief uses it, the EFTA says you are not responsible for any unauthorized transactions. If someone uses your ATM or debit card before you report it lost or stolen, your liability depends on how quickly you report it. For example, if report the theft within 2 business days, your maximum loss will be $50. If you wait until more than 2 business days but less than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you, you are liable for up to $500. If you wait more than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you, your maximum loss will be all the money taken from you account (ATM, debit card account and possibly the money in accounts linked to your debit account).
To better prepare yourself for a future data breach that may be confirmed at any of the major retailers that you have shopped at one point or another, it is highly recommended that you monitor your account closely — especially making use of your online statements, which gets updated immediately. Here are some other ways to protect your financial data.
In addition, be sure to keep a record of your account numbers, expiration dates, and the telephone numbers of each card issuer so you can report the loss quickly.