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What to Do After a Data Breach


No matter how cautious we may be with our personal information, data and security breaches may occur. Hackers continue their attacks on individuals, businesses, and various organizations in hopes of getting their hands on your information. Finding out your personal information has been leaked can be a stressful and it may be difficult to figure out what to do. That’s why we’ve put together some great information and resources to help anyone whose information is exposed.

Gather Information

News of a data breach can spread quickly through local and national media and social networks. Scammers pay attention too. They often use phony emails, fake messages on social media, and other means to pose as the business affected by the breach or even a government agency in order to gather information they can use to commit fraud. Don’t fall for it. To find out if you are affected by a data breach, contact the involved company yourself. Verify that you are using the business’s official contact to request more information.

I’m Affected, Now What?

Depending on what information is stolen, you can determine what steps to take next. Here are some common examples and tips on what you can do:

Online Account Information Hacked – Immediately change your password and your username/login, if possible. You may want to shut the account down altogether. Contact the company for assistance recovering your account if you have trouble logging in.

If you use the same account login information with other websites and apps, change them right away.  Use strong passwords that are preferably lengthy and don’t contain common words or phrases. Utilize a password manager if you have difficulty remembering your login information.

Banking or Credit Card Information Exposed – Get in contact with your bank or credit card company to cancel your card and have a new one issued to you. You may have to close your existing bank account and open another. Don’t forget to update any automatic payments with your new account information to avoid missing a payment.

Frequently check your account for unfamiliar and unauthorized charges. Most banks and credit/debit card companies have mobile alerts that customers can use to track their account. Report any fraudulent activity to the bank or credit card provider right away.

Social Security Number Leaked – Your Social Security number is one of the most valuable pieces of information a hacker can use to commit fraud. Unlike a credit or debit card, you can’t simply close the account or replace the card. Monitoring your credit report is a vital step to take when your Social Security number is exposed. You can get a free credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies:  Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, at Look for accounts that you don’t recognize and credit inquiries that you did not authorize. Dispute any inaccurate information with the reporting agency.

You may want to consider contacting the credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert or a credit freeze, which makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name.

More Useful Tips

Victims of identity theft have the right to create an Identity Theft Report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Report the fraud so the proper action can be taken to stop hackers and scammers.

Safeguard your personal and financial information all the time. Never provide your information to anyone who contacts you out of the blue or whom you have not checked out thoroughly. Make it a practice to monitor your accounts and credit report. Signing up for credit monitoring services may help identify fraudulent activity early.

Don’t let your guard down. Hackers may take months or even years to use your information. Remain alert and ready to act immediately to protect your information. Visit our website at for more information on identity theft.

About Business Consumer Alliance Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.