What every customer should do after a company has a data breach

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Should your account information being hacked cause you to leave your current cell phone company or favorite hotel chain? Maybe. You certainly wouldn’t be alone, as 70% of surveyed people said they would stop following a company after a data breach.

However, if you’re only going to work with companies that have never been hacked, who is left? Big name companies like software giant Citrix, hotel mega-chain Marriott Inc., consumer reporting agency Equifax, and Facebook have all made headlines for breaches in recent months.

While you debate how much you still trust this company, and whether or not you want to stay, here are 3 other things you need to do.

Note: This article will walk you through what consumers should do after a company has a data breach. If you’re a business owner who has been breached and you want to find a more secure off-site data hosting provider, we invite you to click here to find the most secure option.

1. Follow the Company’s Instructions

The company should be sending you an apologetic email, with detailed instructions on what you should do next to protect your sensitive information.

This may include:

  • Activating two-factor authentication
  • Change both your username and password

The legislation on how much a given company is required to tell you about their breach is different in each state. However, it behooves them to give you the most transparent information and the most detailed steps to protect yourself.

data breach
Equifax was probably one of the biggest hacks of 2017.

2. Check Your Credit and Your Social Security Number

If your ill-gotten information has been used to open fraudulent accounts under your name, this is the best way to check and address it.

You’re legally entitled to a free credit report from each of the 3 major credit reporting firms:

  • Equifax
  • Experian
  • TransUnion

You can get a report from all 3 at once, by:

Or you can contact them one at a time, every 4 months, which would cover you all year long. You should also strongly consider adding a fraud alert or credit freeze to your files.

Regularly reviewing your credit record is simply a good habit to get into, whether you’re dealing with a hack or not. You should always check for errors regardless, as about 1 in 5 people have found errors on their credit reports.

3. Keep an Eye on Your Accounts

If there is any fraudulent activity (changes or purchases) happening with your account information, it will show in your bank or credit card record. So, make it a habit to check online via the institution’s website or app.

If you even think something looks suspicious, look into it immediately. The sooner you catch something the better.

Recent years have taught us that no big company is immune to being hacked, and every single Fortune 500 Company has reported some sort of breach in recent years. The bigger they are, the bigger the bullseye that would-be hackers see.

There is no such thing as a hack-proof company. This means that, as consumers, it’s incumbent on us to anticipate that we will all someday be in this position while knowing how to respond quickly and completely.

Last Updated on February 3, 2021.


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