Fact Checked

Accidental email from Synchrony a reminder to monitor online data

Woman looking at her phone, confused and frustratedImage: Woman looking at her phone, confused and frustrated
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If you recently got some unexpected email or text from Synchrony Bank, rest assured — the company says your personal data wasn’t compromised. Any email or text about a trial deposit into an account or action needed on an application was sent in error, Synchrony tweeted, and should be disregarded.

2019 has been full of data breach news, including class-action settlements involving Equifax and Yahoo. And while Synchrony says this latest incident didn’t involve a breach, it’s another reminder to be extra vigilant with your data online.

Want to know more?

What happened here?

On Nov. 25, people began reporting that they’d received an email from Synchrony Bank notifying them that a trial amount had successfully been deposited into their Amazon Credit Builder account or that action was needed on an application. The trouble was, some people getting these emails — including me — didn’t have an Amazon Credit Builder account. Given the confusion, some could have been forgiven for thinking it was a scam.

Later that day, Synchrony sent another email to affected customers apologizing for the first email and stating that email and text messages had been sent in error. The bank assured customers that no personal data had been compromised and that customers didn’t need to take any additional action to protect their accounts.

Synchrony said that the incident did not involve a data breach, just some erroneous emails and texts going to customers.

But that doesn’t mean the situation isn’t relevant as a reminder about steps you can take to help protect your data.

What can you do to keep your data more secure online?

The news about Synchrony’s accidental emails and texts is a timely reminder that there are a few things you can do to help reduce your risk online. While Synchrony says this wasn’t a data breach, it’s important to stay vigilant.

  1. Keep passwords secure. We know it can be a pain to remember multiple passwords, but try not to use the same password several times. If you use the same password for multiple accounts and one of them is exposed or compromised, that could leave your other accounts vulnerable. To help keep track of all your passwords, you might consider using a password manager.
  2. Add multifactor authentication. For an extra layer of security, consider putting two-factor authentication in place for any site or account that offers it. This will require you to first log in with your password. Then, for additional verification, enter a code typically sent to you via text, email or displayed in an authenticator app.
  3. Monitor your credit reports and consider a credit freeze. You can ask the three major consumer credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — to freeze or lock your credit reports at any time. You can also get free credit monitoring if you’re a Credit Karma member. We’ll notify you if we notice important changes on your Equifax® or TransUnion® credit reports so you can check for suspicious activity.

About the author: Paris Ward is a content strategist at Credit Karma, providing readers with the latest news that will aid their financial progress. She has more than a decade of experience as a writer and editor and holds a bachelor’s… Read more.