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How to protect your identity from a data breach

T-Mobile recently confirmed they had a data breach. This exposd of millions of customers’ personal information.

Geico also had a data breach earlier this year. It’s become clear how common data breaches are these days. BBB has tips for consumers to protect personal information and reduce identity theft risks. This is important whether you’re a customer of the affected companies or not.

What is a data breach?

Companies have a large amount of their customers’ personal information stored in digital spaces. Thieves want access to that information. They may target companies with malware. Or they may exploit weaknesses in digital security measures. Once they steal the information, these bad actors sell it on the dark web or use it in their own fraud schemes.

What is the risk to consumers?

No two data breaches are the same and each incident can expose unique information. Consumers affected by a breach may be at increased risk for identity theft. Thieves may use stolen information to fraudulently apply for credit, unemployment benefits and more. In some cases, consumers’ financial accounts may be accessible to thieves. 

Companies collect more customer data than ever before. They save payment methods, passwords, addresses and other information. This allows people to save time, ensure bills are paid on time and budget effectively. However, it also increases the risk of identity theft. Consumers must take extra care to protect their personal identifying information.

BBB recommends consumers take these steps to protect their data against a breach:

  • Don’t overshare online. Avoid posting personal information on social media. It’s not just about your social security number; online quizzes and games may put you at risk! Things like your first pet’s name or the town you were born in can be used to hack your accounts.
  • Check your credit report and financial statements often. Monitor your accounts for suspicious activity and notify account providers as quickly as possible.
  • Use strong passwords, and change them regularly. Protect your accounts with complex and unique passwords.
  • Implement two-factor authentication on accounts and devices. This adds another layer of security to your logins. Two-factor authentication sends a code to your phone or email to check the account owner is the one logging in.
  • Shop with businesses who protect customer information. Check for basic security measures. There should be an HTTPS in the address bar and a clear and detailed privacy policy. Then, look for and check the validity of trust seals like the Accredited Business seal. 

Protecting yourself online is critical, but hard copies of private documents can also be stolen. So it’s important to safely dispose of your private papers. Check with your local BBB to learn more about their Secure Your ID Day and Shred Days

Even the most careful consumers can fall victim to a data breach. Learn what to do after a breach and how to tell if your information was stolen

BBB of Greater Maryland contributed this article.

Source: on 2021-09-02 11:00:00

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