Data Breach Aftermath

Haste certainly doesn’t make waste if you’ve suffered from an entity getting hacked resulting in a data breach. Don’t waste a single minute delaying notifying affected accounts! In the case of a credit card company, they will investigate; you won’t have to pay the fraudulent charges. The breached card will be closed, and you’ll get a new one. And there is more.
All sounds simple enough, but the experience can be a major hassle. Below is what you should do upon learning your card has been breached:

  • If a SSN is breached, place a credit freeze or fraud alert with the three big credit bureau agencies. Placement of the credit freeze or fraud alert will net you a free copy of your credit reports; review them.
  • See if you can find companies that have accounts in your name—that you didn’t set up. Notify and cancel them. Make a list of entities that might be affected by your ID theft, then contact them.
  • If your identity is actually stolen, you may need documents to show creditors proof of your ID theft, you should file a report with the police and FTC.
  • Keep vigilant documentation of all of your relevant correspondence.

If your credit card was compromised, you also must contact every company or service that was on autopay with the old card. This includes quarterly autopays (e.g., pesticide company) and yearly autopays, like your website’s domain name. Don’t forget these! You now have to transfer all the autopays to your new card.

But you also must consider the possibility that your credit card breach is only the beginning of more ID theft to come. You now must be more vigilant than ever. If it can happen once, it can happen again.

  • Check every charge on every statement. If you don’t remember making that $4.57 charge…investigate this. Thieves often start with tiny purchases, then escalate.
  • Use apps that can detect anomalous behavior with your credit card account. These applications are free and will alert you if there’s a purchase that’s out of the norm, such as there’s a charge to the card in your home town, but an hour later another charge occurs 800 miles away.
  • See if your card carrier will let you set up account alerts, such as every time a purchase exceeds a set amount, you get notified.
  • Never let your card out of your sight. The thief could have been someone to whom you gave your card for a payment—they used a handheld “skimming” device and got your data. If you don’t want to hassle with, for instance, the restaurant server who wants to take your card and go off somewhere to get your payment, then pay cash (if possible).
  • Never use public ATMs; ones inside your bank are less likely to be tampered with with skimming devices.

Other than tampered ATMs and retail clerks taking your card out of your view to collect payment, there are tons of ways your personal information could get into a thief’s hands. Here are steps to help prevent that:

  • Shred all documents with any of your personal information, including receipts, so that “dumpster divers” can’t make use of them.
  • When shopping online, use a virtual credit card number; your bank may offer this feature.
  • When shopping, patronize only sites that have “https” at the start of the Web address.
  • Never save your credit card number on the site you shop at.
  • If a retail site requires your SSN in order to make the purchase, withdraw from the site and never go back.
  • Never give your credit card or other personal information to online forms that you came to as a result of clicking a link in an e-mail message. In fact, never click links inside e-mail messages.
  • Make sure all your computer devices have a firewall, and antivirus/antimalware software, and keep it updated.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to discussing  identity theft prevention.