How safe is your debit card? - FOX 13 News

How safe is your debit card?

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

It's a silent attack haunting the holiday shopping season's past: an estimated 110 million Target shoppers' credit card numbers and personal information were stolen during a holiday hacking heist.

And that's just the start of it.

Now, Neiman Marcus confirms they too were hit by hackers, compromising an undisclosed number of shopper's credit and debit card numbers.

"Usually these crooks start out with small charges that might look legitimate or we might pass over. But, the reality is, that is just their first shot across the bow," Fox 13 Consumer Reporter Chris Chmura said Monday.

But even shopping sprees don't satisfy cyber thieves.  Raymond James Financial Advisor Geoff Simon says you'd be surprised to know all the valuable information stored on the back of your card's strip.

"It's not just your credit or debit card information. It's your passwords, your PIN numbers, sometimes your Social Security number," Simon said Monday.

Email accounts, home addresses, and phone numbers are also at risk.  It's a real threat that has some shoppers thinking about switching to paper – instead of plastic.  Still, some say ditching cards altogether is unrealistic.

"I think it's difficult for people to go to pure cash in our society because so much business is conducted on the internet, and you really can't use cash on the internet," Simon said.

It's a growing battle that will largely be left up to retailers and banks, as they scramble to contain a multi-billion dollar problem.

"This is a big, global criminal network, and there are lots of little parts to it," Simon said.

Industry insiders suspect at least three more major retailers were also hit by hackers during that same time period.

Experts say the best way to protect yourself is to be vigilant and check your credit or debit card charges as often as possible and report any kind of suspicious activity as soon as you see it.

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