Data breaches–where consumers’ personal financial or medical information are exposed–are becoming more and more common. For example, the recent Equifax breach, in which hackers were able to access people’s names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, driver’s license numbers, and more affected about 143 million people, and is not the first breach of its kind.
If you have been affected by the Equifax breach or any other data breach, there are some steps that you should take immediately to protect yourself.
Determine If You Were Affected
If a data breach of a company, service, or healthcare provider that you have used occurred, the first thing that you should do is to determine whether or not you were exposed. In regards to the Equifax breach, you can do so by going online to Equifax’s website, and following the directions explained by the Federal Trade Commission.
Freeze Your Credit File and Close Accounts
You should carefully monitor your credit card information and credit score to watch for any newly opened accounts. If you believe that your data has been taken and is being used against you, you should consider closing your accounts and freezing your credit file, which will prevent any new lines of credit from being opened. If you don’t do the freeze, you should at least place a fraud alert on your files.
Don’t Hesitate to File Your Taxes
If you have been affected by a data breach, do not wait to file your taxes! This is because you want to make sure that you file your taxes with the correct information before a data thief would have the opportunity to do so.
File a Formal Report of Identity Theft
If you are certain that your identity has indeed been stolen, you should file a formal report of identity theft with the federal government. The FTC can help you to understand what steps to take next.
Avoiding Data Breaches
One of the best ways to avoid data breaches it to always login to sensitive websites with personal information (i.e. your bank account) on a secure site, and to change your passwords regularly. You should also make passwords difficult. Sometimes, however, companies are subject to data breaches that affect you regardless of your actions. When this happens, knowing what steps to take next is essential.
We strongly encourage individuals to contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC attorney Salvatore Badala as soon as possible if this data breach affects you or someone you know. The call and advice is free and confidential.