Part of living in the modern world is trusting faceless companies with your personal information. If you want to open a credit line, get a mortgage, or buy a new car, you need to hand over all of your data and hope it’s in safe hands.
And you really never know—in the last few years alone, major companies including Equifax, Marriot, and Facebook have all lost sensitive consumer data. This leaves people vulnerable to fraud and identity theft even though they’ve done nothing wrong. Here are the steps to take after a data breach.
Confirm the Breach from a Reliable Source
Data breaches are so common that scammers sometimes send out emails suggesting that the receiver needs to secure their information now (just send in your name and Social Security number to see if you have been affected). Before you panic and send all of your personal information, check a reputable news site to make sure the breach actually happened. From there, you can follow the directions from the breached company to see if you’re actually affected.
Find Out What Was Compromised
Did the breach include credit card numbers that could be used for fraudulent purchases? Was it login info that scammers could use to take advantage of your account? Credit cards can be canceled and passwords can be changed, but if the breach involves social security numbers, your plan of action will be a little more complicated. You might need credit monitoring, or you may want to freeze your credit.
If the Breached Company Offers Help, Take It
The company might try to make things up to consumers by offering free credit monitoring or identity theft protection. Be sure to take advantage of these offers, because they might protect you further down the line.
Keep an Eye Out for Trouble
If your data was breached, be sure to monitor you accounts closely. Check your credit and debit card statements every month, and be sure to get your free credit report every year.
Navigating a data breach can be a frustrating process, but hopefully this guide helps you break it down into actionable steps.