TODAY   |  January 28, 2014

How to keep your credit card safe

CNBC’s Sharon Epperson joins TODAY to discuss steps every consumer needs to take to protect their cards, including asking for a new account number, monitoring your accounts online, and signing up for free. credit monitoring.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> morning on "today's money," protecting yourself from credit card fraud . over the weekend, another retailer said its customers' credit card information may be at risk. michael's says it is investigating a possible security breach . this news coming, of course, just weeks after target and neiman marcus stores said their systems were compromised. this is a breach that might affect millions. so how can you protect yourself and your credit card information? let's get to cnbc's sharon epperson 's take. this is scary, these are folks not doing online shopping , they went to the store and paid with a credit card .

>> and there's nothing they could have done because the malicious software used at the point of sale registers, nothing they could have done to protect that. but there is a lot they can do to protect their information as they're shopping, whether it's online or in the stores.

>> let's move down the line. you say ask for a new account number . if that's if you suspect you've been a victim of fraud.

>> immediately try to get a new account number . why wait to see whether or not there's been fraudulent activity. if you've shopped at those stores recently, you want a new account number .

>> the next one is an important one. some of us don't like to check our bank account , but you've got to monitor your account.

>> this is my favorite tip and i did it this morning. you want to go online and monitor your account and see what the activity has been. sign up for those text message alerts to let you know if you reach your spending limit, if there's been any type of unusual spending activity. monitor it regularly, don't wait for the bill to arrive via e-mail or in the mail every month.

>> might be too late or more of a hassle.

>> more of a hassle to deal with it.

>> sign up for free credit monitoring . do you recommend that even if you don't suspect you're a victim of fraud?

>> yeah, target, neiman marcus , michael's will offer. but a lot of folks aren't signing up for that. it's free, sign up for it. and if you're not one of those customers you want to get free credit monitoring , go to a program offered by the national foundation of credit counseling . they have a program called sharpening your financial focus a 12-month program.

>> i love your tip, and we can't say it enough. change your passwords. don't make it password.

>> or 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. i know for convenience, it's easy to remember one password, but you want to change it up.

>>> and finally, don't mail personal financial information. what do you mean by that?

>> well, because in addition, we are concerned there has been some personal information taken, e-mail addresses and other personal information , you may get an e-mail that says it's from a retailer that you shop at, but really, it may not be. it may be some type of scam. so you don't want to send any personal information via e-mail. they're not going to ask you for that kind of information that way. if there's something you need to provide, go to the website and do it at a secured site.

>> because financial institutions are never going to --

>> they're not going to e-mail your account number .

>> exactly.

>> good tips. we need them more than ever.

>> and last thing people should do is definitely get a free copy of your credit report . always a good thing to do.