With all the data breaches that have been happening lately, it’s only natural that some of you are starting to feel a bit paranoid about your own personal information. If you’ve ever subscribed to something online, or used a bank, or signed in to an email or social media account, then guess what- your info’s on a server in a data center somewhere in the world. Usually, these servers are pretty safe and secure – and ordinarily, keeping your personal information safe is a job that lies solely in your hands.
Of course, no one can control when a data breach happens.
Check for Legitimacy
If you’ve received an email from one of the organizations you do business with about a data breach, the first thing you’re going to want to do is check the accuracy of the report. A quick Google search should let you know if the allegations are true, or if someone’s just blowing smoke or trying to phish out some passwords. Don’t access any links in the email unless you’re absolutely sure it’s legitimate. In the event of phone calls or snail mail…
Keep a cool head, and keep a close watch on your finances. If you notice any transactions that you didn’t authorize, contact your bank immediately, and freeze the account as soon as humanly possible. Call the police, and place a fraud alert if you’re positive you’ve had your personal info jacked by a hacker. If your information has been stolen, you’re probably in for a long, tough battle. Don’t Panic, and Watch Closely
Change Your Passwords
Change your password. Immediately. If you used the same password on any other accounts besides the ones which were compromised, change them – all of them. There’s a pretty good chance the thieves can locate your other accounts using the information they stole. Take action before they do, if it isn’t already too late.
If your information has been stolen, well…you’re going to have to keep a close eye on all financial activity involving you for a while. Usually, victims of identity theft or data theft are okay after they’ve sorted out the initial crisis, but occasionally a criminal might return for a second round.
Usually, I don’t advocate lawsuits, but…in instances like the Playstation Network breach (where Sony didn’t bother to inform their customers that their information was compromised until six days after it happened), class-action lawsuits are justified.
If you’ve lost personal information and the company appears to have done nothing to rectify it, seek legal counsel and find out if you have a case. Do your research, too. Find out if other like-minded individuals are taking action against the organization.
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