A data breach occurs when your information is stolen or accidentally left vulnerable to
theft, enabling thieves to steal your identity. You may read about a data breach in the
news or receive a notice from your financial institution or a retail store saying that
your data has been compromised. A data breach can result from computer hacking, computer
virus, the physical theft of documents or computer equipment, or by accident (such as
emailing information to the wrong address). Companies and government departments are
required to notify you once they discover a breach.
If you suspect or have been notified that your information has been compromised due to
a data breach, determine what information was stolen.
Password - If it is an online account that has been breached, change
the password on the account immediately. If the same password is used on other accounts,
change those too.
Email Address - If it was an email address, watch your inbox for
messages requesting information or requesting you to click on a link. If you receive a
suspicious email from a company you do business with, call the sender to verify that
they did indeed send it.
Credit Card Number - If a payment card number has been stolen, contact
the financial institution that issued the card and explain that the card is at risk of
fraud. Ask them to issue a new card with a new number.
Number - Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies and have
them place a fraud alert on your account. That agency will then be legally bound to
notify the other two agencies to do the same. An alert lets lenders know to take extra
care verifying personal information before issuing credit and entitles you to a
complimentary credit report from each agency. Review this for suspicious activity. A
fraud alert is free and can be renewed every 90 days.