It’s common for people to share their personal information with companies for multiple reasons. Whether you’re checking into a hotel room, using a credit card to make a purchase at your favorite store, or collecting rewards points at your local coffee shop, companies have more access to your data than you may think. While this can help you build relationships with your favorite vendors, what happens if their security is compromised?
A high-profile hotel and another popular consumer brand’s perks program recently experienced data breaches that exposed users’ personal information. If you think you were affected by one of these breaches, there are multiple steps you can take to help protect yourself from the potential side effects.
Check out the following tips if you think you may have been affected by a data breach, or just want to take extra precautions:
- Change your password. Most people will rotate between the same three passwords for all of their personal accounts. While this makes it easier to remember your credentials, it also makes it easier for hackers to access more than one of your accounts. Try using a unique password for every one of your accounts or employ a password manager.
- Place a fraud alert. If you suspect that your data might have been compromised, place a fraud alert on your credit. This not only ensures that any new or recent requests undergo scrutiny, but also allows you to have extra copies of your credit report so you can check for suspicious activity.
- Freeze your credit. Freezing your credit will make it impossible for criminals to take out loans or open up new accounts in your name. To do this effectively, you will need to freeze your credit at each of the three major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian).
- Consider using identity theft protection. A solution like McAfee Identify Theft Protection will help you to monitor your accounts, alert you of any suspicious activity, and help you to regain any losses in case something goes wrong.
- Update your privacy settings. Be careful with how much of your personal information you share online. Make sure your social media accounts and mobile apps are on private and use multi-factor authentication to prevent your accounts from being hacked.
- Be vigilant about checking your accounts. If you suspect that your personal data has been compromised, frequently check your bank account and credit activity. Many banks and credit card companies offer free alerts that notify you via email or text messages when new purchases are made, if there’s an unusual charge, or when your account balance drops to a certain level. This will help you stop fraudulent activity in its tracks.