More than ever, there is news of businesses and individuals suffering from data breaches. With the rise of technology comes more hackers looking to pounce on vulnerable victims, whether that means a start-up company or an unsuspecting person. Like it or not, but the potential effects of data breaches can force us to stay on top of our personal information like never before. While businesses usually have the resources and time to get back on their feet, many of us would struggle if our personal finances were ever compromised. To learn what a data breach is and how to protect your personal finances, read on.
Personal Data Breach Protection
What are data breaches?
A data breach is when a hacker gains access to sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, and bank account details that are then sold on or used to commit fraud or identity theft. You may not always know when a data breach has happened if you do not check your accounts regularly. If letters in the mail or emails don’t sound right, or you didn’t sign up for a new line of credit, be sure to review your accounts for signs of any suspicious activity.
How to handle a personal data breach
If you have been notified that your personal information has been exposed in a company’s data breach, stay calm and set some time aside to resolve the issue. Consider taking the following steps:
- Keep a close eye on your accounts
Review your bank and credit card statements on a regular basis. Identify any errors or transactions you do not recognize. Dispute them with your bank immediately.
- Watch out for suspicious activity on your credit report
How often do you check your credit report? Perhaps you should start doing it more regularly to ensure that there is no suspicious activity. The three major credit reporting companies provide consumers with one free credit report every year. If you review your report and suspect you’ve been the target of fraud, then immediately contact one of the credit report companies and place a fraud alert on your account. The alert will then be sent to all three credit reporting agencies and lasts for at least one year. The alert ensures that any company must verify your identity before issuing credit – making it much harder for a thief to open an account in your name.
- Dispute credit report errors
Consumers should immediately dispute any potential inaccuracies with their credit reports as soon as they’re spotted. Start by filing a credit report dispute. The organization named in your dispute will then be required to investigate and respond to your request. If there is no response or the issuer is unable to verify authenticity, the disputed information will be removed from your report. However, if it is verified as accurate, it will stay on your report.
- Submit an identity theft report
When your personal information has been compromised, you should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Take the complaint and the FTC affidavit to your local police department for instructions. You may need to file a police report. The affidavit and police report would then make up your identity theft report. From here, you will need to alert your financial institutions. Ask your bank if they have a process in place to put a fraud alert on your account.
Experiencing a data breach can be traumatic at the best of times. By knowing what steps to take, you will feel more confident that your data is on the road to recovery.
At Tompkins Insurance Agencies, we are eager to help clients during this troubling time and always. To secure personal or commercial insurance, talk to the team today.