What Should You Do After a Data Breach?

10/18/2017

In light of recent news about data breaches, SSB Bank feels it is important for our customers to understand what they should do to protect their finances. These tips are useful if your information is involved in any kind of breach or hack.

 

Understand what happened.

If you suspect you may have been involved in a data breach, know that different types of breaches require different response levels.

Name and address: Generally-available information, such as name and address, are unlikely to cause serious trouble. You may be susceptible to junk mail and solicitations, but nothing much worse.

Email addresses, dates of birth and payment-card account numbers: this information can be used for fraudulent charges. Change your passwords and watch your statements. If multiple accounts have the same password, change all of them to different passwords. Never use personal information, such as birth dates or Social Security numbers, in your passwords.

Social Security numbers, online-account passwords, financial-account numbers and payment-card security codes (PINs and CV): this is the most sensitive information that can be stolen. With access to this information, criminals can open accounts, get a loan, get surgery, finance a new phone, and more. With this level of severity, it is important to stay on top of your financial records and take the strongest precautions you can.



Be careful about where you get your information (and what links you click).

Don't click on links from sources you can't verify. In the wake of a breach, hackers try to take advantage of the confusion and frustration. Some will set up fraudulent websites to "phish" for personal information, meaning they claim to represent a company but are actually just trying to trick users into revealing passwords, credit card numbers, etc. People have even reported getting emails from "friends" offering links to "helpful resources." These sites and emails have phished for personal information, or provided misinformation.

Make sure that any link you click online is provided by the actual financial institution, and look to see if the exact same URL or phone number is referenced on multiple trustworthy sites.

If you receive an email or phone call asking you to "verify" sensitive information, such as your password, social security number, or account number, contact the financial institution using the email address or phone number on their website. They will let you know if the email or phone call you received was legitimate.

 

Know the difference between a Credit Freeze, Credit Monitoring and a Fraud Alert.

Credit freezes are one of the most effective ways for consumers to protect themselves against identity theft. A credit freeze locks your credit file to creditors and should prevent anyone from taking out new loans, opening credit cards or buying cell phones in your name until the freeze is lifted by you. This is the best way to ensure that you, and only you, have access to your credit.

There are three downsides to consider: it costs money to place and lift the freeze (usually $5 to $15 per action). It must be done for all three credit bureaus, not just one. And finally, if you expect to need to use your credit (to open a card, an account, a loan, etc) in the near future, a credit freeze will make it a little more inconvenient. You will have to remember to lift the freeze for a specific amount of time during the application process.

If a credit freeze is the right move for you, you can call the credit bureaus to request a freeze or apply online:

Equifax Freeze

Experian Freeze

Transunion Freeze


Credit monitoring doesn't prevent thieves from using your stolen information; it simply notifies you after something has already happened. However, using this credit monitoring system is better than being unaware of your credit activity.

A fraud alert placed on a credit file cautions creditors that the person's information may have been stolen. But many creditors don't check this; they're not required to.

 

Stay alert and review all of your statements.

Be extra vigilant of your financial accounts, including bank accounts, credit cards and loan statements. If anything looks off or unfamiliar, get in touch with us (or your financial institution) immediately.

Americans are entitled to a free copy of their report once a year from each agency; you can request all three at once or space them out throughout the year. If you do not regularly pull your credit statements from the three reporting bureaus, consider doing so now so that you know what your credit looks like as a baseline. That way you will be able to spot changes or problems if there are major differences or errors on future reports.

Don't go to any other source for a free copy of your annual credit report except www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.

 

Although there is no way to guarantee that your identity and credit will never be compromised, you can reduce your risk of identity theft with proper precautions and vigilance. If you have further questions, or if you have reason to believe you have been the victim of identity theft or credit fraud, contact us or your financial institution.