What to do if your personal information has been breached through mismanagement of data

Did you know that one in three data breach victims later go onto experience an identity crime?

By now, it’s safe to assume that at least some of your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) has been compromised in a breach. To find a list of all data breaches by month go to Identity Force's website. 

Just this year came out that Jeff Bezo’s phone was allegedly hacked by the Saudis in 2018, via a video sent by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman through WhatsApp. So, we may not all be multi-billionaires like Mr Bezos who has teams of people and divisions working on the security of our personal data, so what can we do to protect ourselves, identities and personal information?

What to do if your personal data was involved in a data breach?  

Monitor your account: Customers should diligently monitor all of their accounts. Although many modern security measures would flag an unusual expense, if a hacker obtained access to an account and made purchases that imitated the customer’s purchasing habit, that would not be caught immediately. Be diligent.

Freeze your credit: You should consider freezing your credit, which may be inconvenient if you are trying to open a new account, but is the most secure way to ensure no one opens a new account in your name. You can freeze your credit by contacting one of the credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.

  • Equifax: 1-800-349-9960
  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
  • TransUnion: 1-888-909-8872

Be wary of scams: People are still willing to click on links that come through to their emails. Seven out of 10 cyberattacks start with a phishing email. Data breaches from major companies give cybercriminals bits and pieces of your information.With everyone having a mobile phone and the intense amount of Spam and Scam calls we all get a day, phone scams are on the rise. The FTC has a list of the types of scams you should look out for:

  • Imposter Scams: a scmmer pretending to be someon you trust – a government agency, family member, a friend, etc.
  • Debt Relief and Credit Repair Scams: Scammers will offer to lower your credit card interest rates, offer you a better loan payment on your car, fix your credit or get your student loans forgiven if you pay their company fee.
  • Charity Scams: Scams requesting donations for disaster relief efforts are especially common on the phone. Always check out a charity before you give, and don’t feel pressured to give immediately over the phone before you do.
  • “Free” trials: A caller might promise a free trial but then sign you up for products — sometimes lots of products — that you’re billed for every month until you cancel.
  • For more information on these scams visit: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0208-phone-scams

Change your passwords: You should change passwords for any accounts that may have been compromised, such as email and bank accounts. It doesn’t hurt to change your passwords multiple times a year.

Update your computer’s security software: If you gave a scammer remote access to your computer, run a scan and delete anything it identifies as a problem.

Document your steps: You should document the steps you have taken to manage any data breach, in the case of the 2019 Capital One breach, they asked for proof you were adversely affected by the attack. Record the time you spend managing your account following the breach and who you contact for help.

With more and more personal records exposed during breaches, companies need to take action to avoid a breach in the first place. Furthermore, when companies announce news of a breach, they need to do a better job of defining what that means for their customers and their data.