Steps You Should Take After a Data Breach

A data breach is a cataclysmic invasion of privacy which can wreak havoc on both businesses and private individuals. 2017 surpassed the total number of data breaches in 2016 by mid-year. Today we touch up on what to do after a data breach.

Consumer Notification

A company that has your payment card or health data that has been hacked is required to send you a data breach notification letter or email that tells you what happened and what was impacted. Make sure to keep whatever mail does not look familiar to you as it can be fraudulent and could be used in the investigation.

Fraud Alert

You can request a fraud alert with the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian) If you contact one of these bureaus they will notify the other two. A fraud alert is a notice to a credit reporting bureau that a consumer’s identity may have been stolen and there has been a request for new credit in that consumer’s name.

Update your login information

If the company you are blindly forced to trust with the most sensitive data of your life has been impacted by a breach, and you’re not sure if they have gotten your information it’s always a good idea to reset your password to something more complex and unique. It’s best to make sure that no account has the same password as another account. It’s also a good idea to make sure the passwords for all of your accounts are a minimum of 12 characters and complex using upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.

If the password suggestions above seem like it’s too much to manage, you’re right. Use a password manager such as LastPass or KeePass.

Consider freezing your credit

A credit freeze prevents unauthorized credit and loan accounts from being opened in your name because the company issuing the credit or loan must call the number listed (your number) on the credit report for verification. Fees and requirements for adding and removing a freeze vary by state.

Sign up for a credit or identity-monitoring service

Tons of services, free or paid, will help monitor your credit or financial accounts. BillGuard, for example, is a free online and mobile service that will keep track of charges on an unlimited number of payment cards. Billguard says it doesn’t mine user data because they say the way they make money is by licensing it’s software to certain banks and trustworthy merchants. LifeLock Ultimate charges $15-$30 for full-fledged security monitoring for accounts and the three main credit bureaus.

Data breaches are no laughing matter. Just take the Equifax data breach, for example, millions of people were exposed. It’s always best to be safe than sorry.

Total Number of BreachesTotal Number of Records ExposedNumber of Breaches with Total Records IdentifiedNumber of Breaches with Total Records Unknown
Source: ITRC Data Breach Report dated 10/25/2017

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