Steps to Take if You’re The Victim of a Data Breach

Anyone can be a victim of data breach. Even some of the popular organizations have suffered from data breaches, which compromised millions of payment-card numbers and accounts. If you are one of those who have information that could be exposed in a data breach, there are ways on how to minimize of being an identity victim theft.

  1. Know What Was Stolen

You will need to pin down exactly what type of information was lost in data breach. Get a copy of your credit report first. Here’s a list of the best credit report sites. Sensitive information could fall into general categories such as:

  • Least Sensitive – Street addresses and names. These information was a bit harmless when this was printed in your phonebook. At present, a name typed into the search engine may yield data beneficial to online marketers as well as nosy neighbors, yet probably not enough to cause severe trouble.
  • More Sensitive – Dates of birth, credit card account numbers, and email addresses. Stolen email addresses could result to increased spam and stolen credit cards may result to fraudulent charges, yet cardholders are generally protected from the liability. Dates of birth are useless, yet once these are combined with a name, it can be more valuable than addresses due to the reason that these never change and often used for verifying identity.
  • Most Sensitive – SSN or SIN in Canada, financial-account numbers, online account passwords, and payment card security passcodes are the most sensitive information. Online account passwords, once combined with email addresses, may be used when hijacking online accounts. Card security codes allow a thief use stolen card numbers for telephone and online shopping. Bank account numbers, on contrary, can allow thieves to monitor your financial transactions and may move money into any accounts.

2. Change Affected Passwords

If online accounts have been compromised, changing passwords right away is important. If you use same passwords for other accounts, change them and make new yet strong passwords for every account. Do not reuse passwords for your second account. In this way, you will be able to limit the damage next time data breach hits and you will not have to undergo this process again.

If online companies offer 2-factor authentication for protecting accounts, take advantage of it. Through this, thieves who attempt to lot into online accounts can’t get in, even using the right passwords, unless they have numeric codes that company texts to legit cellphone of the user. If remembering and creating all new passwords is hard, utilize a password manager to do the job for you. Through a password manager, you will need to remember one password and this software will take good care of the rest. But, the downside is that once the master password was compromised, all your accounts will be compromised too.

Contacting financial institutions and credit-reporting bureaus can also be a good idea. In this way, you will be able to cancel your stolen card and get new one right away. They can also freeze your account so that thieves won’t be able to get your money or use your credit card to make transactions or purchases.

With the increase if major retail data breaches over the past several years, now is the time to put an identity theft & data breach protection plan into place.  Stay informed and get alerts if your information is part of a data breach.  Don’t wait for the retailers to contact you.  By then, the damage could already be out of control.