How To Protect Yourself After a Data Breach

The recent Sony/Playstation security breach is believed to be the largest data breach in history with over 100 million people’s personal information compromised.  This breach included names, birthdates, gender, physical and e-mail addresses, logins, passwords, and usernames. Credit card information, purchase histories and other profile data stored on Network servers may also have been stolen by the hackers. 

Security breaches involving your personal information – also referred to as data breaches – can create a significant risk of fraud or identity theft if the information is acquired by the wrong person.  A security breach does not necessarily mean that you will become a victim of identity theft. However, this guide informs you of the risks involved and the measures you can take if you’re affected by a security breach.

First you need to determine what type of breach occurred.  Carefully read the notification letter you receive to figure out what type of personal information was impacted by the breach, when it was likely acquired or subject to acquisition, and who may have been able to acquire it. You will need to know if the breach could affect your existing accounts, could result in the creation of new accounts, could compromise your personal identifying documents (like your Social Security number), or could potentially result in all of these categories of fraud.  Once this has been determined, follow the below steps:

  • Immediately inform all parties that were included in the breach, such as your bank, creditor, driver’s license department, social security administration, passport issuer, or any other agency that provides identifying documents. 
  • Request a new card or account number
  • Request a password and/or security question be added to your account for an additional layer of protection.
  • Request a Fraud Alert be put on your credit file

Your credit file will be flagged with a statement that says you may be a victim of fraud and that creditors should phone you before extending credit.

 

Under new provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you can place an initial fraud alert for only 90 days. You can renew the fraud alerts after 90 days if you wish. You may cancel the fraud alerts at any time.

  • Check your credit report with all 3 bureaus
    • Go to www.mcmf.net and click on ORDER MY CREDIT HERE to get your FREE credit report. 

When you receive your report, review it carefully to make sure the information is accurate.  If you notice any unfamiliar accounts, loans, inquiries, or contact information, immediately file a dispute to request that the information be corrected.  http://mcmf.net/MCMF_EXCEL_FILES/Sample%20Dispute%20Letter.pdf

  • File a police report—If you have had fraudulent charges, you will need to file a police report in order to help recover your losses.
  • Consider an ID Monitoring Service–Many businesses that experience breaches will offer free credit monitoring services to affected individuals.
  • Continue to monitor your accounts, mail and credit reports.   Since you may never know how many persons obtained your personal information as a result of a security breach, where they’re located, and what they did with the information, you will need to continue monitoring your accounts and credit reports for a period of time after the breach to watch for fraudulent activity.  Keep checking your bank and credit accounts for unfamiliar charges. Continue ordering your credit reports and review them carefully for errors or fraudulent accounts. And watch your mail for suspicious or unexpected bills or account correspondence. Fraud or identity theft attempts may not occur right after the breach or even for months or years following the breach, so it is important to make a habit of closely monitoring your financial data and personal information.
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About jenniferhamby

Jennifer Hamby, Executive Vice President of My Credit My Future, has worked in the financial sector since 1996. She is dedicated to educating consumers on financial education and responsibility. Having worked in Data Facts’ Nashville office since 2007 as an account executive, Hamby realized the need for financial education that was informative, yet easy to understand and attainable. Partnering with both Junior Achievement, and Tennessee Jump$tart, in providing financial education, opened her eyes to the tremendous benefits in providing financial literacy and resources for consumers to aid in making better financial decisions.
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