There's a looong list of companies that have fessed up to data breaches. This isn’t just bad press for them. If hackers get access to your financial data or personal data (think: account passwords, your birthday, your phone number, etc.), it’s potentially bad for your bank account. And it can take a while to unwind the damage. If you think your info has been compromised, here’s how to protect yourself.
Call one of the credit bureaus. That’s Experian, TransUnion or Equifax. Ask them to put a fraud alert on your account. (Like a game of telephone, the one you call will tell the others.) This alert shows future lenders that you’re on the lookout for potential identity fraud. So they should be careful before approving new loans or credit card applications in your name. Setting up an alert also gives you free access to your credit report. If you see something fishy there, say something.
Retire ‘yourpetsname123’ as your go-to ASAP. It had to happen sometime. While you’re at it, switch up the answers to any site security questions. Because honesty can be a bad policy here. Things like your birthday, mom’s maiden name or an old street address can be Googled or found on social media. Pro tip: to really throw hackers off, use wrong, hard-to-guess answers (the kind with random characters and numbers). Just don’t forget what you wrote later.
Related: Online Security, Skimm'd
Keep a close eye on your bank statements. And sleep with one eye open. JK. But you'll want to jump on any sketchy activity. Banks have protections in place to refund fraudulent charges...if you tell them ASAP. Play it safe by requesting a fresh new card and account number sooner than later.
theSkimm: If you think you’ve been affected by a data breach, act fast. A little legwork now can help you avoid bigger financial headaches later. And don’t forget that hackers may play the long game. Just because you don’t see any fraudulent activity right after a breach doesn’t mean you won’t ever. Make a habit out of scanning your accounts for at least a few months.
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Skimm'd by: Ivana Pino, Stacy Rapacon, and Elyse Steinhaus