The past few months have clearly demonstrated that no account – no matter the organization or security measures taken – is immune to access by a determine hacker, so it is important for everyone to know what they should do in order to protect themselves once an attack has occurred.
Millions of Americans experience data breaches every year, increasing their risk of various types of fraud, such as identity theft and financial fraud, as their personally identifiable information (PII) may have been obtained by an unauthorized individual.
Experts are recommending that individuals take the following steps in order to protect their personal data when they discover that one of their accounts has been breached:
• Go over the account that experienced the breach, looking for unauthorized activity. This doesn’t just include fraudulent charges, but also changes to your telephone number, address, or other information.
• Change your user access credentials, such as your PIN or online passwords. Never reveal this information to anyone and beware of phone, email, and internet scams that would have you provide this critical information.
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• Let your creditors know of the breach to your account. This may include having your current credit cards cancelled and having new ones issued. Have the card issuer notify you of any unusual transactions on your account.
• Notify any one of the three major credit bureaus so that they can place a fraud alert on your file. An initial fraud alert will remain in place for 90 days and could necessitate a confirmation of the legitimacy of your identity from potential creditors before credit is granted. An extended fraud alert will remain in place over seven years. This is usually what occurs when identity theft has actually taken place.
• Obtain a copy of your credit report and go over it to look for any unusual or unauthorized activity.
• Think about obtaining a credit report security freeze. You may need to take this action if the data breach has lead to fraud. The security freeze will stop any access to your credit so that a new account will not be able to be opened in your name.
• Check your insurance policy – such as auto, homeowners, or renters insurance – to see what kind of coverage is included. Allstate, for example, has recently announced a new identity theft expense coverage for a tiny annual fee of $30, which covers expenses up to $25,000 for the restoration of your identity, with no deductable – even if you hire someone to do the work for you.