If you discover that your information has been exposed in a data breach, don’t panic! Here are some steps you can take to better protect your personal information going forward:
Change your passwords
Hackers and fraudsters may use the exposed password to try to gain access to other accounts, so it's important to change the exposed password anywhere it's used.
If you don't know what the password is or where else you use it, start by making sure you have different passwords for any accounts that contain sensitive info, such as a banking app or email account. Repeating the same password for more than one account can make it easier for a hacker to access your information. You should also avoid reusing any security questions or password hints going forward.
Lock or freeze your credit reports
If someone has enough of your personal information, they may try to use it to apply for new credit cards or loans using your name. Placing a lock or freeze on your credit reports could prevent that from happening. If your credit is locked or frozen at all 3 of the main credit bureaus, lenders won’t be able to access your credit reports for new applications for new financial accounts.
With that said, remember to unlock and/or unfreeze your credit report with all three main credit bureaus before you apply for a new financial product, such as a mortgage, loan or credit card. And remember if you still want to keep the freeze or lock on to place it again once after the application process.
Review your financial accounts for suspicious activity
You should regularly check your bank accounts, credit reports, and any other account for any suspicious transactions, inquiries, or new accounts. Unfamiliar activity could be a red flag for identity theft.
If you notice fraudulent charges, contact the bank or credit card company to let them know that your account has been compromised. Dispute any fraudulent charges or accounts, and request that the company send you confirmation of your dispute inquiry in writing, for your records.
File a report with the FTC
If you are a victim of identity theft, you may want to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at identitytheft.gov or by phone at 1-877-438-4338. Please note, this can be a lengthy process.
If your personal info has been compromised by a data breach, you may also want to read the article: 6 steps to take after identity theft.