How Data Breaches Can Affect Your Wallet | theSkimm

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 personal or financial data, it’s potentially REALLY 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:

If your SSN was exposed…call one of the credit bureaus – Experian, TransUnion or Equifax – and 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, say something.

If your passwords were exposed...retire ‘yourpetsname123’ as your go-to. 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 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.

If your financial account numbers were exposed...sleep with one eye open. JK. But do keep a closer eye on your statements, so you can 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 usually 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.