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citibank_hackers By Jessica Bosari*, Guest Writer for Inpui.com

Hackers managed to steal the names and email addresses associated with 200,000 credit cards from Citibank. Those holding credit cards with the bank may receive calls about their card numbers being part of the compromised batch. Victimized consumers should use caution, lest they become victims again by those looking to capitalize on the crime.

Citi has the responsibility to inform their customers of the information theft and by now should have called affected cardholders. Customers should remember that Citi will not ask them any specific or personal questions about their accounts. Anyone who calls asking for this information is fishing for information since Citi would already know.

The Type of Information Stolen

The hackers only retrieved names, email addresses and credit card numbers. Fortunately, this is not likely enough information for them to access these accounts. The hackers did not retrieve social security numbers, expiration dates on cards, cardholders’ birthdates or card security codes. If anyone calls requesting information like this, do not provide it. These calls are likely from identity thieves.

Another way these hackers will try to extract additional information from cardholders is through email. Also, beware of any links in suspicious emails or messages. These links lead to disreputable websites that may place spyware on the cardholders’ computers to record passwords as consumers type them on their keyboards.

How to Protect Yourself

These cardholders can take active steps to ensure no one uses their cards fraudulently. Although unlikely, there is a chance that hackers might succeed in making purchases with just the credit card numbers. For this reason, these cardholders should monitor their credit card statements carefully. Check every charge listed and contact Citibank if you do not recognize any entries.

Some credit cards are also debit cards. Charges made with these cards happen in real time, so these customers should not wait for statements to arrive in the mail. Instead, check statements every day online to ensure no unauthorized charges occur on your debit card accounts.

Those who have credit card information stolen should check their credit reports several times throughout the year. This is easy to do by requesting a credit report from each of the three credit bureaus every four months. One inquiry per year from each bureau is free.

Financial advisors believe the Citibank hacking episode was not as severe as it could have been, but advise consumers not to let their guards down. Continue to monitor your credit and debit statements regularly.

About the writer: Jessica Bosari manages Billeater, a site devoted to helping consumers lower their bills and save money.

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