Data breaches have become increasingly common in recent years, with high-profile incidents affecting millions of individuals and organizations worldwide. The severity of a data breach can vary widely, from minor information such as phone numbers and addresses being exposed to more sensitive information such as credit card numbers.
Luckily, there are plenty of actions you can take following a data breach notice to help protect your personal information.
In this guide, we’ll provide you with actionable tips and resources to help you secure your personal information and ensure no lasting damage is done. Follow the steps outlined below to take control of your data security.
Change Your Password
One of the easiest and most effective steps you can take after receiving a notice of a data breach is to to change your passwords. Hackers often steal login credentials during a breach and can use them to access your personal accounts.
In addition to changing your password after a data breach, it’s also a good practice to change your password regularly for general security reasons. This helps to reduce the risk of a hacker gaining access to your accounts by guessing or cracking your password. The frequency of password changes can vary depending on the sensitivity of the account and your personal preference, but we recommend changing your passwords every 3 to 6 months.
How to Create a Strong Password
When changing your passwords, it’s essential to create strong and unique passwords for each account. A strong password is one that is difficult for others to guess or crack, and it typically includes a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Avoid using common words or phrases, as these can be easily guessed by hackers.
To create a strong password, consider using a password generator tool, like Dinopass or Norton Password Generator, or create your own using a passphrase, which is a phrase or sentence you can easily remember but is difficult for others to guess.
For example, “My dog’s name is Max, and he was born in 2010” could be turned into the password “Mdn1wBi2010!” by using the first letter of each word and adding in numbers and symbols.
Use Unique Passwords for Different Accounts
Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. If one of your accounts is compromised, hackers can use that password to access your other accounts. Consider using a password manager to keep track of all your passwords or create a system for remembering different passwords for each account.
Here’s a list of password managers we recommend:
Taking these steps can go a long way in protecting your personal information.
Set Up Credit Monitoring, Credit Reports, and Fraud Protection
After experiencing an incident where your personal information may have been exposed, it’s important to take proactive steps to protect your identity and financial well-being. One crucial aspect is monitoring your credit regularly and being aware of any suspicious activities or signs of potential fraud. In this section, we will delve into the topic of credit monitoring, credit reports, and fraud protection services. Whether you have been provided a code for credit monitoring or are considering various options, we will provide valuable insights and guidance on how to navigate these services effectively.
What is Credit Monitoring
After a data breach, credit monitoring is a great additional step to take to protect your financial well-being and prevent identity theft. Credit monitoring is a service that keeps a watchful eye on your credit report and alerts you to any changes or suspicious activity.
How Credit Monitoring Works
Credit monitoring works by regularly checking your credit report for any new accounts, credit inquiries, or other changes that could indicate fraudulent activity. If any suspicious activity is detected, the credit monitoring service will notify you via email, text, or phone call.
Some credit monitoring services also give you access to your credit score and credit report regularly so that you can keep track of any changes over time.
Tips on Choosing a Credit Monitoring Service
When choosing a credit monitoring service, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable provider, such as Experian, Aura, or CreditKarma. Look for a service that offers real-time alerts and provides comprehensive monitoring of your credit report from all three major credit bureaus. You should also consider the cost of the service, as well as any additional features such as identity theft insurance or credit score tracking.
Another factor to consider when choosing a credit monitoring service is the level of customer support provided. Look for a provider that offers easy-to-access customer support through phone, email, or chat. You want to quickly and easily resolve any issues or questions that may arise.
How to Check Your Credit Report
To obtain a credit report, you can request one for free annually from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can also request a free credit report if you have been denied credit within the past 60 days. Reviewing your credit report can help you identify any unauthorized activity or accounts opened in your name, which you can then report to the credit bureaus.
You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit reports every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. You can also create a myEquifax account to get six free Equifax credit reports each year.
How to Set Up Fraud Alerts
Setting up fraud alerts is another important step to take after a data breach. A fraud alert notifies lenders and creditors that you may have been a victim of identity theft, and they should take extra precautions to verify your identity before opening a new account or extending credit. You can set up a fraud alert by contacting any one of the three major credit bureaus (listed above), which are required by law to notify the other two bureaus of the alert. Fraud alerts typically last for 90 days, but can be renewed for longer periods of time.
By taking these proactive measures, you can minimize the damage caused by a data breach and get back on track toward financial stability.
Practical Steps to Take to Keep Your Info Secure
Experiencing a data breach can be unsettling, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself and minimize any potential damage. Here are some additional ways to safeguard your data and reduce the impact of a data breach.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Enabling two-factor authentication is one of the most important steps to protect your accounts. Two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring a second form of verification beyond just a password.
Most major online services, such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter, offer two-factor authentication. Follow the instructions provided by the service to set it up. Usually, this involves providing a phone number or email address that the service can send a code to for verification.
You can also use an authentication app, such as Google Authenticator or Authy, to generate codes instead of using your phone number or email address.
Be Wary of Phishing Emails and Phone Calls
Phishing emails and phone calls are common tactics hackers use to trick people into giving away sensitive information. Be cautious of any suspicious emails or phone calls, and never provide personal information unless you are sure the request is legitimate. Verify the legitimacy of any email or phone call by contacting the company directly using a trusted phone number or email address.
Report Any Suspicious Activity
If you notice any suspicious activity on your accounts, report it immediately to the company or institution involved. Consider filing a report with your local law enforcement agency or the Federal Trade Commission. Staying alert and taking swift action can help keep your info safe.
While data breaches have become more common in recent years, it’s important to remember that you can take proactive measures to safeguard your personal information. If you experience a breach, taking immediate action is key to minimizing the damage.
Simple steps like changing your passwords, monitoring your accounts for suspicious activity, and setting up additional security measures like two-factor authentication and fraud alerts can help reduce the risk of identity theft and other cybercrime.
Even if you haven’t experienced a data breach, it’s always a good idea to implement these strategies to protect yourself. By staying vigilant and keeping your software up-to-date, you can reduce the chances of becoming a victim of cybercrime.
Remember, you’re not alone. If you notice any unusual activity on your accounts, report it immediately and seek assistance from your bank or credit card company. By taking these actions, you can regain control of your data security and protect yourself from the impact of a data breach.
At StaffScapes, we’re always looking for ways to provide additional value to business owners. Share these tips with your employees and customers, and contact us today if you have any questions about how we can help you find more freedom while running and growing your business.