First Target, then Neiman Marcus, now Michaels?

The nation's biggest arts and crafts retailer is waiting to see if a data security attack on its computer system may have put some customer payment information at risk. That possibility is being investigated by federal law enforcement and a computer forensics firm.

"We are concerned there may have been a data security attack on Michaels that may have affected our customers' payment card information and we are taking aggressive action to determine the nature and scope of the issue,'' CEO Carl Rubin said in a statement provided to ClickOnDetroit.com.

This report follows the security breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus. Both of those hackings are also under investigation. It's not clear if any of the attacks are related.

If you are a Michaels customer, you can take immediate action by checking the credit/debit card accounts you used at the store to see if there is any suspicious activity.

Whether you shop at Michaels or any of the stores recently affected, all consumers should take this opportunity to learn how to protect your accounts.

1) Always analyze your account statements very carefully. Investigate any suspicious charge, no matter how small. At the bare minimum, you should look at your monthly statement. If you have the time, you might check accounts online each week to spot any issues more quickly.

2) Avoid using debit cards to pay for items. While many people like the convenience of debit cards, if a hacker does get that account information, he can steal directly from your account. The thieves will take your money! You will likely get your money back, but it could take a while and you could be bouncing checks in the meantime.

3) If you're able to carry more than one credit card, make one card your "dirty card". Use that card in public places and to shop online. Your other cards will be safer, and if there is some problem, you'll just have to cancel that one card.

4) Be sure to check your credit report annually. That's how you will find identity theft that is more serious. You'll be able to spot anyone trying to apply for loans or new credit cards.

5) If you are the victim of credit card fraud, you should put a security freeze on your credit report through the three reporting agencies: Experian,TransUnion and Equifax.