What to Do if You’re in a Data Breach
Data breaches are becoming more common. As we’ve mentioned, even high-profile websites have passwords and more leaked. In our always-on, always-connected world, we can feel very secure… But the truth is that everyone is at risk of being a data breach victim. This risk is always present, too. So what should you do if the worst comes to pass and you find that your data has been stolen? First thing’s first: You don’t have to be a victim.
By taking a few important steps after a data breach, you can minimize the damage and protect yourself from criminals. If there’s been a data breach involving a service you use, act fast, and follow this list to protect yourself.
Step 1) Change Your Passwords
You should do this periodically anyway, but even if you’re a fan of changing up your passwords, it’s extra important to do it when there’s a data breach. Don’t reuse passwords across sites, either. If your email and password are leaked from one site, criminals will try to use those credentials elsewhere. To create a strong password, use at least eight characters and create a “passphrase” with random characters between words. For example, instead of a password like “Tampa123@,” use a string of words you can remember. “GuMBo0t!#CAn3()F3vEr&#” would take longer to crack than the age of our universe, for example… And it’s just a matter of remembering Gumboot, Cane, and Fever – Then the way you wrote those words. You should also sign up for two-factor identification.
Step 2) Watch for Updates on your Data Breach
Companies affected by data leaks often post ongoing updates about the situation. If you’ve been affected by a data leak, keep an eye out for instructions from the company. This can help you react quickly. You should also watch your bank accounts, mail accounts, and credit score for changes. If you suspect unauthorized use, get in touch with these services immediately.
Step 3) Freeze Your Credit
If you’re not planning on opening any new credit accounts, you can ask for the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to freeze your credit. There is no fee to freeze your credit. This prevents new inquiries, which can affect your credit score and prevent new accounts from being opened in your name. This way, even if thieves have enough information to open an account, they will be unable to. Of course, you can cancel the freeze whenever you need to. Be sure to do this any time you’re using credit for something like financing a new car or taking out a home loan.
Step 4) Seek Help
The United States government has set up a website to assist people who have been affected by identity theft. Go to IdentityTheft.gov and browse their resources. As you do, consider hiring an information integrity specialist like those at Arruda Group for advice on continuing. Identity theft is perhaps the worst outcome of a data breach and can be a nightmare to fight. You want as much help on your side as you can find.
While being hit by a data breach is scary, quick and vigilant action makes a world of difference. Watch your accounts, take steps to protect yourself, and seek help to ensure you’re protected. At Arruda Group, we will help you do all of the above. First, call us for a consultation and describe your situation. We’ll go over how our skills can help you right away.