It seems like there’s a massive data breach in the news every other day now, affecting major companies with whom there seemed to be a sufficient amount of institutional trust, such as Target, Equifax, and Marriott. With nearly every transaction moving online, though, there is, unfortunately, a greater chance of having your personal information stolen or exposed due to a security failure.
Just as companies adopt stricter measures to minimize the risk of suffering a data breach, hackers and other bad actors have also become more innovative with the ways they can access sensitive information, such as credit card information, Social Security numbers, addresses, and phone numbers. If you have been notified that your personal information may have been viewed by an unauthorized third party, the hope is that nothing suspicious showed up on your checking or savings accounts. Still, it pays to be vigilant.
If You Are Notified About a Potential Data Breach
Your mind might be racing after receiving a notification from a business or government entity that your information may have been compromised (in Missouri, organizations are required to notify consumers if there has been a potential data breach). Do your best not to panic, though: just because any identifiable information of yours may have been viewed by a malicious actor does not mean your identity has been stolen.
Keep a close watch on your bank accounts in the days after you receive a notification. You should be able to recognize which transactions are legitimate and which should be regarded as fraudulent (for instance, were you really in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon and back at your job in Kansas City on Monday morning?). If you notice a suspicious charge on your credit card or bank accounts, call your bank immediately and let them know. They will let you know how best to proceed. If your bank is closed, there is likely a number for you to call and cancel your card.
If you have any online accounts with the entity that notified you about a possible data breach, change your password as soon as possible. For maximum security, use a combination of capitalized and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and special symbols.
When the dust settles and you have assurances that your personal information is now secure, make a determination about whether or not you want to continue associating with the organization that allowed the data breach. If it has a history of security issues, it may be time to take your business elsewhere.
In rare circumstances, you might be eligible for compensation; after all, who could forget the infamous Equifax data breach that was announced in 2017 yet took years to settle? Affected individuals were initially eligible for $125, but the number of applicants reduced the average payout to around $6.80 per person.
Data breaches are becoming far too commonplace. While we can hope that the worst outcome of a breach is a momentary feeling of stress, the situation can occasionally be far more serious for victims. Our firm looks out for consumers and their interests; if you feel you have been wronged by a company or individual, we want to see how we can help. Get in touch with us here to schedule a free consultation with our team.