If your personal information has been compromised by a data breach, take these five steps to mitigate the damage.
Step 1: Read all notices from the compromised company
The business that’s been breached will generally reach out to all potential victims to notify them of the exposure. it may also advise them about next steps. If you believe your information may have been compromised in a breach, read every message you receive from the exposed company.
Step 2: Alert your financial institution
Next, let know your account may have been compromised. This way, we’ll know to keep an eye out for signs of fraud. We’ll be watchful for any large transaction or withdrawal and be in touch if we notice any suspicious activity.
Step 3: Change your passwords
A data breach generally means passwords of all kinds may have been compromised. It’s best to change as many as possible after a breach to keep information and money safe. Start by changing passwords you are sure were a part of the breach.
Step 4: Consider a credit freeze
A credit freeze will alert lenders and credit companies to the fact that you may have been a victim of fraud. This added layer of protection will make it difficult, or impossible, for hackers to open a new credit line or loan in your name.
You can freeze your credit at no cost with all three of the major credit bureaus, Equifax, Transunion and Experian. You’ll need to provide some basic information and you’ll receive a PIN for the freeze. Use this number to lift the freeze when you believe it is safe to do so.
Step 5: File an identity theft report
If you believe your identity has been stolen, file an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as soon as possible.
Take these precautions to protect your information from future data breaches:
- Monitor your credit for suspicious activity on a regular basis.
- Use strong, unique passwords for each account and opt for two-factor authentication when possible.
- Never share sensitive information online and always keep your security and spam settings at their strongest levels.