#15 Compromised – Data Breach
Data breach is an event that reveals sensitive or protected information. A data breach can expose your personally identifiable information like your email address, bank account information, passwords, credit card numbers, Social Security number, or date of birth. This unintended exposure of information can be accidental or deliberate. Many criminals will hack into a company’s network in order to gain access to their database of valuable customer information.
All types of organizations fall victim to data breaches. Victim organizations can be any type of entity, such as hospitals, retailers, credit bureaus, companies, universities, and even government agencies.
Data breaches happen all of the time and are incredibility difficult to prevent as the criminals’ tactics are everchanging. Remember, the companies that have your sensitive data have to be right one hundred percent of the time when it comes to protecting your information, but the criminal has to be right just one time.
What do criminals do with the data they steal?
- Withdraw money from your bank accounts or investment accounts by using your login credentials.
- File a tax return using your name and Social Security number to receive your tax refund.
- Apply for government benefits like Medicaid, welfare, unemployment insurance, or disability.
- Open utilities in your name with no intention of paying the bills.
- Use your credit card rewards like your hard-earned airline frequent flier miles.
- Open new credit card accounts in your name.
- Take out loans in your name by using your credit or by leveraging the equity in your home as collateral.
The takeaway: It’s important to take steps to help protect your personal information. It’s also important to realize what happens when you share personal information: You likely have little control over how your information is secured or what could happen to it in the event of a data breach.
Credit monitoring will not alert you to this type of fraud.
Being part of a Data Breach means that your identity has been compromised (it has not been used yet in a fraudulent activity). LibertyID recommends that our members take the following steps:
- Find out what kind of data was stolen. U.S. companies are required to notify customers if their information was breached. If you get this type of notification, try to pinpoint which accounts might be compromised and consider accepting whatever help the company offers. This may include free credit monitoring.
- Contact your financial institution. Whether it’s your credit card issuer or your bank, discuss next steps such as changing your account numbers, disputing or canceling fraudulent charges, and setting up fraud alerts.
- Change and strengthen your passwords on all accounts. Even accounts that weren’t breached might be compromised later, especially if you’ve been using the same passwords. A password manager can help you create strong passwords, keep them safe, and let you access them when needed.
- Check your free credit reports. Visit AnnualCreditReports.com to request your annual free credit report from each credit bureau. This can help you spot errors and fraud, such as new accounts you didn’t authorize. Also consider freezing your credit files to stop anyone from opening new accounts in your name. Remember, you’ll have to lift the freeze if you need to open new accounts later.
- Look for suspicious activity. Monitor your accounts and look for suspicious activity. This may include charges or withdrawals you didn’t make or new accounts that appear on your credit report.