The list of popular companies that many of us interact with or use for services that have had breaches continues to grow in 2023. With cyberattacks becoming more sophisticated, knowing how to respond is crucial if you discover that your personal data has been involved in a breach. In this blog post, we will guide you through essential steps to take to protect yourself and minimize the potential damage caused by a data breach.
Stay Calm and Gather Information
Discovering that your personal information has been compromised can be alarming, but it’s essential to remain calm and gather as much information as possible. Identify the source of the breach, such as a compromised service provider, financial or credit institution, or online store you have an account with. Look for official notifications from the organization involved but be careful of fake notices claiming to come from a company that has announced it has had a breach. Scammers will try and take advantage of these situations. Know how to contact these companies now, before there is a breach.
Secure Your Accounts
Start by changing your passwords for the affected accounts immediately. Ensure that the new passwords are strong, unique, and not used on any other platforms. Implementing two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible adds an extra layer of security. If your breached information includes financial accounts, contact your bank or credit card company to report the breach and inquire about any additional security measures they recommend.
Monitor Your Accounts
Regularly monitor all your financial and online accounts for any suspicious activities. Keep a close eye on your bank statements, credit reports, and any alerts you receive regarding unauthorized access or changes to your accounts. Consider using a credit monitoring service, which can provide ongoing surveillance and alerts for potential fraud.
Enable Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes
Contact credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to place a fraud alert on your credit reports. This alert informs lenders to take additional verification steps before granting credit in your name. Additionally, you may opt to freeze your credit to prevent any new accounts from being opened using your stolen information.
Be Wary of Phishing Attempts
After a data breach, scammers may try to exploit the situation by sending phishing emails or making phone calls pretending to be from the breached organization. Be cautious and skeptical of any unsolicited communication, especially those requesting personal or financial information. Avoid clicking on suspicious links and only provide sensitive information through secure channels. If you are unsure the best option is to call the company.
Update and Strengthen Security Measures
Review your online security practices and enhance them where necessary. Ensure that your devices, including computers and smartphones, are running the latest security updates. Install reputable antivirus software and keep it up to date. Consider using a password manager to generate and securely store complex passwords for your various accounts.
Report the Breach
If you discover a breach on your own, reporting it to the appropriate authorities is crucial. Contact your local law enforcement agency or cybercrime reporting center to file a complaint. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online at IdentityTheft.gov or call 1-877-438-4338
Experiencing a data breach can be a distressing event, but taking immediate action can help mitigate the potential damage to your personal information. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can protect yourself from further harm, monitor your accounts effectively, and strengthen your overall security posture. Remember, staying informed, being proactive, and practicing good cybersecurity habits are key to safeguarding your personal information in an increasingly digital world.
If you have questions about your personal cyber security, contact our team at Data Evolution.