Home Depot announces possible security breach

How can consumers protect themselves?

Another major retailer thinks they are the victim of a security breach.

Home Depot says they found unusual activity that would point to a hack. They are working with banks and law enforcement to investigate.

They joins stores like Target and Goodwill that have dealt with security breaches.

When it comes to these types of breaches, there is little a consumer can do to avoid them.  But financial institutions are working around the clock to make sure your information is as safe as possible.

“There’s a lot of tools out there, there’s a lot of things people are watching for unusual activity,” said Wayne Oliver, Executive Vice President of State Bank Financial in La Crosse, “Anybody that’s processing any of the credit or debit transactions is 24/7 looking for unusual activity.”

Beyond just looking for unusual activities, some companies are looking into technology that would prevent it in the first place.

One piece of technology, EMVs, are being called the wave of the future. “They’re cards that actually have an embedded chip in them,” said Oliver, “that passes a one-time code between the terminal and that card, so it’s only used once, it can’t be used again so it wouldn’t do any good for anybody to steal the data.”

But EMVs are slow to make it to the U.S. The big reason? The technology designed to protect your money, costs a lot of money. “It is very, very expensive to roll out everywhere, everything from ATM cards, every place you go today takes a card, so to get a universally accepted card to work with all of that, it’s a challenge, but it’s going to come,” said Oliver.

So until it does, what can a consumer do to stay safe? “At the end of the day it’s making sure that you have your card, you’re holding it safe, you can’t do a whole lot, but once it happens it’s real important to find out quickly, and your banks and financial institutions, they’ll let you know pretty quick if somethings happened,” said Oliver.

Home Depot says they will notify customers immediately if it confirms their personal information has been compromised.

Target Corporation is still trying to get beyond its massive breach that occurred late last year and hurt sales, profits and its reputation with customers. It has been overhauling its security department and systems and is accelerating its $100 million plan to roll out chip-based credit card technology.