No one likes a hacked account. A hacked account can result in financial loss, identity theft, or just a whole lot of wasted time. None of which is fun. But unfortunately, you don’t have too much control over what is or is not hacked. All you have control over is the aftermath. So if you happen to find yourself on the receiving end of a data breach, here’s what you should do if your personal information has been compromised.
1) CHANGE PASSWORDS
Your passwords should be changed as quickly as possible. The sooner you get around to doing this, the better off you’ll be. If you change your passwords before anyone gets inside your account, then obviously they won’t be able to get inside your account at all. Even if they manage to crack your credentials, it won’t do them any good. Those credentials will be old by that time. Make strong passwords for all online accounts including email, banking, credit cards and websites you make purchases from.
2) FREEZE YOUR CREDIT AND CHECK CREDIT REPORTS
Place a freeze on your credit, so a hacker cannot open any new accounts under your name. If they have enough of the right information, they can potentially steal your identity. After a breach, check your credit reports carefully for suspicious activity. Depending on the severity of the breach and the type of company breached, there might be free credit monitoring services offered. You can check annualcreditreport.com for free credit reports.
3) GET NEW ACCOUNT NUMBERS AND PAY ATTENTION TO STATEMENTS
If you any have financial information tied to your account, then you’ll have to keep a close eye on your bank statements and credit card statements for any fraudlent activity. Tell your banks and credit card companies you need new account numbers, because your personal information was stolen. You may need to request a replacement for any credit card used or saved on the site. Keep in mind, this doesn’t just apply for websites like Target and Amazon – where purchasing products is the sole purpose. It could be a site like LinkedIn, who gives you the option to pay for a higher level membership.
4) BEWARE OF EMAIL SCAMS
When criminals hack their way into a database, they can take a lot of information. Some valuable. Some not. But one of the things they will likely gather is your email address. And surprisingly, if they have your email address, they don’t need much else to send a legit phishing email your way. But your email address isn’t the only thing they might have. In all likelihood, they probably have personal details, as well. Because of this, you need to be wary of any emails you receive from a company after they’ve been hacked. Think twice about clicking links, downloading attachments, or fulfilling any requests – even if it looks 100% legitimate.
5) FILE TAXES EARLY
You should file your taxes as early as possible to prevent tax fraud. A hacker who has your personal information, specifically your name and Social Security number, may try to use it to file under your name and steal your tax refund. To minimize the risk of tax fraud, it's best to beat someone to the punch and file your taxes early.