Paying for goods with anything aside from cash (or possibly bartering with beads and stones) is never going to be 100 percent safe. When you add online commerce into the mix, something will go wrong sooner or later. The latest disaster involves the well-known computer maker Acer, 34,500 leaked credit-card numbers and a whole lot of soon-to-be-disgruntled customers.
In accordance with California law, Acer gave the state's attorney general a copy of a form letter notifying customers about Acer's data breach. The California attorney general's office then proceeded to post the form letter online late last week.
According to the form letter, Acer will be notifying customers who purchased goods through the Acer website between May 12, 2015 and April 28, 2016 that a "security issue" may have put their information in the hands of cybercriminals.
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Said information includes a customer’s name and address, and also the customer's credit-card number, its expiration date and the security code printed on the back of the card. Obviously, this information is all even a dull-witted attacker needs to start making fraudulent purchases in your name.
Acer did not specify what, if any, kinds of security precautions it used to safeguard customers’ information, nor whether the breach occurred on Acer's own servers or on that of a third party. The company informed security solution site Softpedia that the breach affected approximately 34,500 people in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
For those who receive Acer's notification letter, the company will have a few recommendations. First, the letter advises users to review their credit-card statements for suspicious charges between May 2015 and April 2016. It also will remind users that they can get one free credit report per year from www.annualcreditreport.com.
We at Laptop recommend that if you received Acer's breach notification letter, then you should take things one step further and contact the credit-reporting agencies to place a credit alert on your files. The Acer letter has instructions on how to do this, and so does our own story about what to do if you're affected by a data breach.
You may want to think twice before letting online retailers save your credit-card information for future purchases. Most retailers let you opt of that -- simply make sure the box marked "Save my credit card information" is unchecked.
For a website like Acer’s, where you may shop once every few years, there is no good reason to store credit card info. And if you find yourself buying a new Acer laptop every few months, you may have bigger problems than a data breach.