May 27, 2024

Bucks: Remain Calm Over the PlayStation Breach

Fans of Sony’s PlayStation already were upset that they couldn’t go play their favorite video games with their friends on the Internet. The PlayStation’s online network has been down since last week in the aftermath of a hacking incident.

Now, the network’s 77 million account holders have learned that the hackers obtained personal information, like their names, street addresses, e-mail addresses and PlayStation account user names and passwords.

A red-faced Sony said it couldn’t be sure, but that credit card numbers and expiration dates might have been compromised, too. The company said it was warning account holders about the possible credit card breach in “an abundance of caution.”

So what should you really be worried about, if you’re a PlayStation network account holder? Obviously, no one wants to have their credit card information taken and possibly used for nefarious purposes. But the odds of serious financial damage from the incident appear to be low.

For starters, the hackers in this type of situation are often looking for notoriety, rather than to resell financial information. (One group known for doing this sort of thing disclaimed responsibility for the PlayStation hack but sounded sort of disappointed. “For once, we didn’t do it.”) And even if you were unlucky enough to be one of the 77 million card numbers whose account information ended up being resold for criminal purposes, you’d see the suspicious charges on your account. We all know by now that we should be monitoring our credit card statements regularly. Right?

The incident does suggest that it’s probably best to use credit cards for continuing automatic payments, like subscriptions for gaming networks and other services, rather than a debit card, if that’s an option. At least with a credit card, you get a warning that something’s not right, and your liability for unauthorized use is limited. With a debit card, the funds could just vanish from your bank account. Even with a debit card, though, your losses are generally limited if you report the problem to your bank promptly. (Again, you’re supposed to be watching for this sort of thing.)

So it seems as though following the standard advice about preventing identity theft -– monitor your accounts and report problems promptly — should allay concerns about serious problems arising from this incident. Do you agree?

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