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What to Do When Your Personal Data is Breached

By Jeff Welch
February 28, 2023

In today's digital world, data breaches have become increasingly common, and personal data privacy has become more important than ever before. A data breach occurs when sensitive or confidential information is accessed, stolen, or disclosed by an unauthorized party. Data breaches can happen in various ways, including from cyber-attacks, human error, or insider threats.  

How to Respond to a Data Breach  

Data breaches can have severe consequences for individuals whose personal information is compromised. Hackers can use personal information to steal identities, commit fraud, or blackmail individuals. Therefore, it is essential to know what to do if your data is involved in a data breach.  

If you think your data has been breached, follow these steps: 

Step 1: Confirm if Your Data Was Compromised 

The first step in responding to a data breach is to confirm whether your data was compromised. The organization that suffered the data breach should notify affected individuals, but this is not always the case. It's crucial to stay vigilant and monitor your accounts for any suspicious activity.  

If you suspect that your personal information was compromised in a data breach, you should contact the organization that suffered the breach and ask if your data was included. You can also check with credit reporting agencies to see if there has been any suspicious activity associated with your credit.  

Step 2: Change Your Passwords 

If your data was compromised in a data breach, the next step is to change your passwords for all online accounts associated with the breached information. Make sure to use strong, unique passwords that are different for each account.  

You should also enable two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. Both two-factor and multi-factor authentication adds extra layers of security by requiring a second form of authentication, such as a fingerprint or one-time code, in addition to your password.  

Step 3: Monitor Your Accounts 

If your data was involved in a data breach, you should monitor your accounts for any unusual activity. Check your bank and credit card statements regularly to make sure there are no unauthorized charges.  

You can also consider signing up for credit monitoring services. These services will monitor your credit report and notify you of any changes or suspicious activity. 

Step 4: Freeze Your Credit

If you suspect that your personal information was compromised in a data breach, you can freeze your credit. A credit freeze prevents anyone from accessing your credit report, making it difficult for someone to open a new account in your name.  

To freeze your credit, contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and request a credit freeze. You can also unfreeze your credit if you need to apply for a loan or credit card.  

Step 5: Be Vigilant for Phishing Scams

Data breaches can give cybercriminals access to your personal information, including your email address. Therefore, it's important to be vigilant for phishing scams.  

Phishing scams are fraudulent emails or messages that are designed to trick you into providing personal information or downloading malware. Be cautious of any unsolicited emails or messages and never provide personal information unless you are certain of the sender's identity.  

Step 6: Consider Identity Theft Protection Services 

If you are concerned about the security of your personal information, you can consider signing up for identity theft protection services. These services will monitor your personal information and alert you if there is any suspicious activity.  

Identity theft protection services can also help you recover from identity theft if it does occur. They can assist you in contacting creditors and reporting fraudulent activity.  

How to Keep Your Data Safe From Breaches

Data breaches have become a common occurrence in today's digital age. It's important to know what steps to take if your personal information is compromised in a data breach. By confirming if your data was compromised, changing your passwords, monitoring your accounts, freezing your credit, being vigilant for phishing scams, and considering identity theft protection, you can ensure you've taken precautions to prevent it from happening. 

Did your business recently suffer a data breach? If you're recovering from a breach or want to significantly decrease your chances of ever having to, schedule a cyber security assessment with Grab The Axe. Our team of Total Solutions Security experts will evaluate your cyber security systems and help you identify vulnerabilities and risk levels, and steps you need to take to lock your digital doors. 

If you're interested in strengthening your personal data security beyond the information provided here, make sure to subscribe to our Insights and follow along with us on social media. 

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