During the first half of the year, data breaches went up 58% in the U.S., according to the Identity Theft Resource Center and they are on a record-setting pace.
In light of these staggering numbers, the Better Business Bureau serving Louisville, Southern Indiana and Western Kentucky has suggestions for consumers concerned their information may have been leaked or compromised:
• File a police report.
• Put a fraud alert and/or credit freeze on your credit reports. A credit freeze will prevent anyone from accessing your credit report or scores. A fraud alert flags your account but does not automatically stop new credit from being opened in your name.
• Request a 90-day fraud alert: If your Social Security number was stolen in a breach, ask the credit bureaus to put a note on your file so creditors know to further verify the identity of any individual who attempts to open new accounts or take other actions under your name. Notify one of the three major bureaus — Experian, Equifax or TransUnion and it will inform the others.
• Check your credit report for any suspicious activity. You can check it for free up to three times a year — once for each credit reporting agency — at AnnualCreditReport.com.
• If your credit card has been breached: Monitor your credit card statements online. Do not wait for paper statements. If you see a fraudulent charge, report it to the card issuer immediately. Keep receipts in case you need to prove which charges you authorized and which ones you did not.
• If your debit card has been breached: Do all the above as for credit cards but pay very close attention to your account. Debit cards do not have the same protections as credit cards. Contact your bank for more information or if you want to pre-emptively request a new debit card.
• Change and strengthen your online logins and passwords especially if several of your accounts have the same logins and passwords. Most consumers (82%) admit to using the same login credentials across more than one website at least some of the time. A strong password is long — 12 characters or more — with a random combination of upper and lower case letters, number and symbols.
• Use multi-factor authentication. This allows access only after two or more pieces of evidence are presented — usually a password and a code that is sent to the user by phone, text or email during login.
• Set up account alerts. You may be able to receive notifications of suspicious purchases or those that exceed a certain dollar amount. This may give you a heads-up that you’ve been hacked.
Also, what about identity monitoring services? With so much stolen data being bought and sold by criminals on the dark web, signing up with an identity protection service may seem like a smart move. Don’t get swayed by exaggerated claims. These services can provide some peace of mind, but you can do much of what the services offer on your own.
For more tips, go to bbb.org.
Reanna Smith-Hamblin is president and CEO of the Better Business chapter serving this region. She can be reached at 502-588-0043 or [email protected].