Having your identity information stolen can be a very frightening experience. Luckily PCWorld offers a few tips to limit the potential for damage caused by lost or stolen identity:
1. Change your passwords
Changing your passwords should be the first thing you should do after hearing of a breach, especially if the account that was compromised shares a similar login information on other sites, especially if you use it for banking. Strong passwords should be at least eight characters long and should contain numbers and special characters (i.e. #&*) as well as letters for your protection.
2. Watch for phishing attempts, malicious emails
If your email address is exposed during a data breach, the hackers who have stolen it may try and send you targeted malicious emails. In addition to seeing suspicious emails you may see a rise is spam as well. Don’t open any attachments that you weren’t expecting to receive, even if it is from someone you trust. To be safe don’t click on links in emails, especially if it looks like it may be coming from your bank. It is safer to type the site address into the address bar yourself to avoid being brought to a malicious site.
3. The same goes for snail mail
If your physical address was compromised in a hack, cyber criminals may try and send you malicious mail via the postal service. Be wary of any mail that asks you to send money or your personal information.
4. Keep an eye on your financial statements
If you believe your financial information may have been compromised it is important to watch your bank and credit card statements to make sure that there haven’t been any unauthorized withdraws or purchases made to your accounts. If you find any, report them to your financial institution immediately and request a new card.
5. Put a fraud alert on your credit report
As a data breach victim one of the most important things you can do to protect your identity is to put a fraud alert on your credit report. By putting out a fraud alert you are alerting the major credit agencies that your identity has been stolen and that they should be on the lookout for any suspicious activity, such as applications for loans or new credit card or bank accounts opened under your name. To learn more about filing a fraud report, consult the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).