What to Do If You Believe You Have Been the Victim of a Data Breach

Millions of Americans panic whenever a data breach is announced. They worry about their identity being stolen and their reputations being ruined. Thankfully, there are steps that can be taken to lessen the effects of these breaches. Individuals can make sure that their data is as secure as possible and that their identity is protected. A handful of steps can lessen the possible damage from a data breach.

The first step if you believe you have been the victim of a data breach is to freeze your credit. Fraudsters often commit identity theft by taking an individual’s personal information and using it to take out loans in their name. They default on those loans and an individual’s credit history suffers. However, in order to qualify for those loans a party has to pull an individual’s credit file. Credit freezes lock down those files and prevent them from being pulled.

Freezing credit is a somewhat complicated process in many instances. Individuals have to submit a form by mail or even physically visit a location. After they do, they will receive a special code that they can use to unfreeze their credit at a later date. That code is critical if an individual ever wants to apply for a loan again in the future. Once an individual’s credit is frozen, the amount of damage that an identity thief can do is greatly reduced.

Next, you should take care to track your finances and your accounts for any suspicious activity. Sometimes, different services will track these activities for you. Banks and credit cards will often flag suspicious purchases in exotic locales. There are outside organizations that offer credit tracking with one or more credit bureaus. These organizations either offer their services for free or charge a low rate. They will alert a user if there is a considerable change in their credit score or if someone is attempting to access their credit. In addition to these services, individuals need to stay vigilant about their finances. They should check their bank and credit card statements regularly to flag any controversial or strange activity that shows up.

Data breaches are scary incidents that have become an