You may be hearing more and more often about data breaches on the news and the first question that may be running through your mind is, “Was I affected?” and that may be followed by “What should I do now?”
We live in a world where cybersecurity threats are real and more common than ever. Even when we take precautions to make sure that our personal information is kept private, third-party entities can still be victims to these data breaches — leaving our information exposed.
When this happens, you need to know what steps to quickly take to make sure that you’re protected.
GET CONFIRMATION OF THE DATA BREACH AND FIND OUT IF YOUR INFORMATION WAS EXPOSED
You may get a notification email from the affected company letting you know that there’s been a breach. Be careful and make sure that the email comes from a trusted source. When a data breach occurs, scammers may also reach out to you posing as the company to try to obtain more of your personal information. Don’t fall for fake emails or phone scammers. Visit the company’s website and/or call the company directly to confirm the breach and to find out whether your information was compromised or not.
After a data breach, some companies establish websites and call centers dedicated to help consumers who were affected.
CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS
After a massive data breach, it’s important to immediately change your login information, passwords, and security questions and answers for the accounts that could have been affected. In fact, you should be doing this regularly to avoid any security vulnerabilities. If you use the same passwords for any other accounts, change those too and create new, stronger passwords for each account that you own.
Another security measure to strengthen your online presence is by turning on two-factor authentication wherever you can. This is an extra layer of security for your accounts to make sure that you’re the only person who can access your account, even if someone knows your password. If you have it enabled, every time you log into a new device, you’ll usually receive a code directly to your phone so you can confirm that it is you who signed in.
SET UP CREDIT MONITORING
Check your credit reports annually from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Go over these reports to see if any fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name.
Remember to also monitor existing credit card and financial institution accounts closely to make sure that there is no suspicious activity or any charges that you don’t recognize.
Consider all of your options — some people may consider placing a credit freeze or fraud alert on their files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name and a fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an ID-theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name is really you.
Ultimately, everyone needs to be vigilant about any suspicious activity, regardless of whether they were impacted or not. Stay alert and watch for any charges that you don’t recognize. Keep an eye out for scam emails or phone calls posing as legitimate companies. Most companies will not contact you to ask for personal information such as credit card numbers, account information or social security numbers.
Being vigilant and safeguarding your personal information and identity should be an integral part of your routine — whether it’s updating your passwords or paying close attention to your finances, this will be time well spent.
If you notice any suspicious activity with your account, contact GECU immediately by visiting any location or calling 778.9221, toll-free at 1.800.772.4328.