Home DepotTrouble is brewing for Home Depot, America’s largest home improvement retail chain. Several financial institutions, as well as cybersecurity blogger Brian Krebs, have uncovered evidence that a major data breach may have occurred within the chain as early as April 2014. Credit card data that matches up with Home Depot store zip codes is currently being sold on the same website which listed stolen information from Target, P.F. Chang’s and Sally Beauty. With 2,200 Home Depot stores across the country, this has the potential to be bigger than the breach that hit Target in December 2013. The breach that occurred then only lasted three weeks, while this could have gone unchecked for months. Home Depot is currently working with banks and law enforcement to determine what, if anything, has happened. It will notify customers immediately if a breach is identified.

What is Home Depot doing about this issue?

So far, Home Depot has not gone so far as to announce whether there has been a breach or not. However, the company has set up a page on its website to explain to customers what is happening. The page currently says the store is investigating “unusual activity.” It also reminds you that if a breach has occurred, you will not be responsible for any fraudulent charges made with your credit or debit card. Your bank or Home Depot will take care of reversing those charges. The company also promises to provide free identity protection services to all customers potentially affected if a breach should be discovered. This has become commonplace for retailers to offer in the wake of data breaches. Not only does it help customers out, but it also shows the company is serious about addressing the problem.

What can I do to protect myself in the meantime?

Until we know exactly which stores were affected, how many customers are at risk and what information has been exposed, it’s hard to tell exactly what you should do. There are several steps that can be taken now which can be beneficial for the future — even if your data was not stolen.

1. Check your bank and credit card statements. Go over your transaction history with a fine-tooth comb. While the batch of stolen card data that prompted this discovery only recently went on sale, it’s possible data may have been sold or traded elsewhere online. If you have shopped at Home Depot anytime in the past five-to-six months, it is a good idea to look back over your payment history from that time period. Notice anything strange? Report it to your card issuer immediately. During the Target breach, criminals tested cards to see if they were still operable by placing a small charge onto the card. Since small charges can add up, they were banking on the account holders not noticing. The sooner you pick up on fraudulent activity, the sooner you can put a stop to it!

2. Consider signing up for identity theft protection. Home Depot has promised its customers free identity theft protection service if a breach is discovered. Why wait? Not only do identity theft protection services monitor the black market to ensure your personal information is not being sold or traded, but some also keep an eye on your credit reports for suspicious activity. Most of these services cost less than $20/month, which is a great price for your peace of mind. Check out our identity theft protection reviews to see which is the right service for you.

While it is a sad likelihood that a breach has occurred, it is important not to panic. Identity theft is scary to behold, but these frequent data breaches are pushing consumers and businesses alike to address the gaps in their security measures. Staying alert and taking proactive steps is the best way to keep your identity as safe as possible.