5 Steps to take if you experience a data breach
In today’s high tech environment, it seems that data breaches are becoming a more common occurrence. There is not much you can do to eliminate data breaches from outside companies, but the good news is that this doesn’t need to lead to panic on your part. There are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your information from further harm.
- Fraud alert & credit check
- Call Experian credit bureau at 1(888)397-3742 to place a credit freeze and get a free credit report. Alternatively https://www.experian.com/fraud/center.html can be used to place a fraud alert on your account and complete a credit check online.
- If you place a fraud alert at one credit reporting agency, they will automatically alert the other two agencies and the fraud alert is good for 1 year. Make a note of the date you place the alert, and you can renew it each year.
- You are entitled to a free credit check from any of the 3 major credit bureaus if your credit has been compromised. It is important to utilize your free check to assess the damages done during the data breach.
- Notify companies and change passwords
- Notify any bank accounts, lenders, and other financial institutions you deal with of the situation to avoid further damages.
- Change your password for any online accounts at the companies where your data has been compromised. If you use the same password for other accounts, change those as well.
- Criminal Reporting
- You may need to report the incident to local authorities if your specific credit was impacted. For instance, if someone stole your passport or drivers license.
- Complete the FTC’s Identity Theft Affidavit form at ftc.gov/complaint and print the form.
- File a police report at your local police station and keep the report copy with your FTC Affidavit secure for future use.
- Save Copies
- Save copies of paperwork, signatures, and documents from all financial institutions related to the identity theft. It is important to have a well-documented paper trail for this issue.
- Signs of Data Breach
- Continue watching for signs that your data has been compromised such as; withdrawals, collection notices, missing bills, account changes, declined checks, unfamiliar information in your accounts, compromised email and social media accounts, and any other irregularities with your personal accounts and data.
Taking a few simple and proactive steps after a data breach can help you avoid the headaches that come from identity theft and breathe easier knowing that you are protected.
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