Updated: May 13
It’s almost starting to feel routine. Another data breach impacting millions of consumers. Sometimes, it starts to feel like background noise. However, cybercrime is real, and if it is your data that has been compromised, there are steps you should take as soon as possible. What are you supposed to do when you get that email or letter from your bank, credit card company, hotel, or investment firm? How do you respond to that notification if an organization with access to your sensitive data has been breached? For some, the notification inspires a moment of panic. For others, the constant barrage of warnings might tempt them to ignore it. There should be a happy medium. When you find out your data has been compromised, simply taking a few steps can protect you and keep your identity and finances secure.
Step One: Get the Details
Not all data breaches are the same. There is a big difference between having your name and address stolen and having your email address, date of birth, and credit card number taken. Things are even more serious when breaches include social security numbers, passport numbers, and credit card security codes. You should pay attention to all breaches, but more sensitive information requires even more diligence.
Step Two: Change Your Passwords
Any time you are impacted in any way by a data breach, it is an excellent time to change all your passwords. Hackers have a way of finding patterns in passwords, especially if you use similar ones for multiple accounts. Creating long and strong passphrases provides an extra layer of protection. This might also be a good time to consider a password manager. There are free options available, and these tools can help ensure you are using secure passwords. They can check to see if you are using the same password on multiple sites and provide the ability to easily change them on a regular basis.
Step Three: Contact Your Financial Institutions
If any of the stolen information might allow someone access to your credit cards or bank accounts, be sure to alert your providers immediately. They can monitor your account, put it on hold, or issue you new cards and numbers. Proactively alerting financial institutions prior to fraudulent activity helps protect against loss.
Step Four: Monitor Your Credit
Often after a significant breach, those impacted can sign up for free credit monitoring. If you don’t already have this, take advantage of the offer. This will alert you if anyone attempts to open a new account using your stolen information. Depending on the severity of the breach, you can also request to freeze your credit with the major credit bureaus. This makes it difficult for a cybercriminal to apply for an account using your name and stolen details.
Data breaches and cyber-attacks are here to stay as part of our lives. While we cannot tune them out, if we respond quickly, we can ensure personal and business information remains secure.
Do you have questions about data breaches or cyber-threat monitoring services? We’re here to help! Contact Cleartech Group at (978) 466-1938 or reach out online. One of our knowledgeable techs would be happy to help!