There were forty-four major corporate security data breaches last year, impacting hundreds of millions of Americans and their personal data. Unless you were extraordinarily lucky, the personal data that companies like Equifax and Uber and eBay have stored about you was likely compromised. So what are you supposed to do if your data has been breached? What if the companies you trusted to keep your address, bank information and even your health data safe, are hacked?
Here are the 4 steps you need to take when your information is part of a data breach:
1) Change your password immediately and make it a good one. Start with your account at the breached company. After, move on to other critical accounts (email accounts, banking and financial accounts, etc). If you ever needed a reason not to use the same password for your online accounts, this is it. Customer email addresses are often part of the data that is compromised in a breach. So many accounts depend on your email address, once a hacker has that and the access to your password, they can get pretty far into your life.
Want to know how to make a strong password or check the strength of a password? Click here for more information.
2) Contact the company that was part of the breach and confirm the personal information they have on file. This is to check that it hasn’t been altered. You can also verify what information was involved in the breach so you can take specific steps in the damage control process. Keep an eye on that account to be sure nothing suspicious occurs. Note: do NOT click on links in an email from any company where you have an online account. ALWAYS go directly to their website and DO NOT reply to any company generated emails. These are classic ways that hackers phish for information.
If it’s likely that your Social Security number may have been involved in the data breach, contact the Social Security Administration as soon as possible to decrease the likelihood of identity theft. It is particularly difficult to get a new Social Security number, so be prepared for a gamut of hoops to jump through.
3) Check the trash, spam and sent items in your email to be sure someone hasn’t tried to set up an account with your information. Since the verification for account changes or setting up an online account is sent via email, make sure no one has set up or tried to set up new accounts under your email address.
4) Take a look at the ship-to address on your account on sites like Amazon and other retailers, including prescription medication websites. Make sure the address hasn’t been changed on accounts that would be valuable to bad guys. It’s not likely it would happen right away in a big data breach, so keep an eye on things. Data that is stolen can take months or even years to trickle out from the dark web (the web’s version of the black market).
Changing your passwords is the quickest and most effective way to lessen the impact that a corporate data breach might have on you and the information that the company holds about you. Be vigilant about all your online accounts (including social media) to be sure that the activity is yours and yours alone.
As part of your on-going vigilance, make sure your computer is frequently updated, keep your data backed up, and run antivirus software regularly.
Corporate data breaches can make us all feel a bit helpless, but there are steps you can take to decrease the impact such an occurrence has on you, personally. Getting and maintaining good cyber-security habits will go a long way to keep your information more secure. And for details on what you can do to keep from being a personal victim of a cyber-attack, check out this article on cyber-security and how to not get hacked.
Again, be vigilant with your online data, because the stakes are high. Take care of your privacy and do everything you can to protect it with the help of LegacyVault. Try it for free today!