If you follow the news, you may realize major data breach headlines are frequent. The details vary, but in each breach, thousands, millions or even billions of victims’ sensitive information is compromised. And they’re now vulnerable to identity theft unless they take immediate action.
Here at San Antonio Citizens Federal Credit Union, your financial success and safety is our primary goal. To help keep your information and finances secure, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on data breaches. Here is all you need to know about security breaches of any kind.
What is a data breach?
Data breaches occur when sensitive information is accessed or used without authorization. Factors like online data and sophisticated hacking tools have spurred a steep increase in data breaches in recent years, causing damage to consumers and businesses in every industry.
After a data breach
Whenever you hear about a major data breach that can possibly affect you, monitor your accounts for suspicious activity. In most cases, you will be notified if your data has been compromised; however, it helps to keep an eye on your accounts even if you haven’t been contacted so you can reduce damage by acting quickly.
If you’ve been victimized by a breach
If you’re told your information is compromised by a data breach, take the following steps as quickly as possible:
1. Freeze your credit
Placing a freeze on your credit is the most crucial step you can take to stop scammers from getting at your information. This added layer of protection will make it difficult or impossible for hackers to open a new credit line or loan in your name.
2. Change your passwords
Hackers often hold onto victims’ information immediately following a data breach and then sell it months down the line to other cybercriminals. To protect your accounts from a delayed-reaction hack, change all of your passwords after a breach that has possibly affected you.
3. File an identity theft report
If you believe your identity has been stolen, file an identity theft report with the FTC as soon as possible.
Protecting your information
Following these simple steps can help keep your information safe:
- Monitor your credit. Check your credit accounts for suspicious activity on a regular basis. You can request a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Use strong, unique passwords. Use a different password for each account, and choose codes that are at least eight characters long. Also, use a variety of numbers, letters and symbols. Using a password manager like Dashlane or iPassword can also help keep your information safe. It’s also a good idea to choose two-factor authentication when possible.
- Browse safely. Never share sensitive information online and always keep your security and spam settings at their strongest levels. Make sure your devices are fully updated at all times.