Tips advise consumers how to avoid being hacked during holidays

Nation’s largest credit union trade group list suggestions for keeping data safe

WASHINGTON, DC (December 22, 2014) – To help consumers avoid fraud this holiday season, and every season, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) released a list of helpful tips to keep their personal information out of the hands of criminals. Hackers will stop at nothing to get the personal information and card data of millions of Americans.

“With the immense number of data breaches that occurred at retailers in 2014, and a grim forecast for 2015, it’s essential to arm consumers with tips they need to protect themselves,” said CUNA President and CEO Jim Nussle. “Knowing how to protect yourself from hackers, and what to do if you get hacked, can help you keep your hard-earned money and give you piece of mind.”

CUNA is the country’s largest credit union advocacy organization, representing our nation’s state and federal credit unions, with over 100 million memberships. CUNA site contains a list of helpful ways for consumers to remain vigilant and protect their personal data when shopping in retail stores and online, including:

  • Don’t respond to email, text or telephone calls asking for personal or financial information
  • Frequently review account activity and immediately report unauthorized transactions
  • Place an initial fraud alert with credit bureaus if fraud has occurred
  • Enroll and opt-in for transaction monitoring
  • Use card on/off switches (if available)
  • Enroll in Verified by VISA / MasterCard Secure Code

In 2014 there have been over 744 data security breaches, a 24.8 percent increase over 2013 which saw 596 breaches.  In fact, a recent poll conducted by The Wall Street Journal and NBC News found that nearly half of all Americans have been notified by a credit card company, financial institution or retailer that their credit card information had possibly been stolen as part of a data breach. Staples announced just last week that it has suffered a breach which affected 1.16 million customers. In the case of a data breach at a retailer like Staples, credit unions are limited by law in disclosing many of the circumstances of the breach and often they are not able to disclose the merchant responsible – yet the credit union is left to clean up the mess when a retail data breach occurs by informing its members of the breach, protecting their members from fraudulent charges and reissuing new credit and debit cards.

“Arming consumers with tips to protect themselves is helpful, but what’s necessary to change the state of consumer protect is a change in policy,” said Nussle. “Merchants are not subject to the same federal data protection standards as financial institutions, making them more susceptible to attacks. The best course of action to reduce data breaches would be for Congress to establish federal data-protection standards for retailers that are equal to financial institutions under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.”

About CUNA
With its network of affiliated state credit union leagues, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) serves America’s credit unions, which are owned by 100 million consumer members. Credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives providing affordable financial services to people from all walks of life. For more information about CUNA, visit or follow @CUNA on Twitter. For more information about credit unions, visit and follow @asmarterchoice on Twitter. Visit the CUNA Press Room for a full listing of media mentions, press releases and resources to stay informed on current events within the credit union industry.

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