Identity theft has been an overwhelming problem for the past couple years, with millions of people in the United States alone being affected. Hackers are able to manipulate and infiltrate the security systems on most online platforms. In response, the technology world is constantly adapting and improving security measures to prevent hackers from trying to steal your identity.
Recently, Capital One Bank was a breeding ground for hackers, with approximately 100 million people in the United States and 6 million more in Canada being affected. The overall damage resulted in over 80,000 bank accounts being compromised, along with 140,000 Social Security numbers and 1 million Canadian Social Insurance numbers also being stolen.
Identity theft is not a new issue and millions of customers are being affected by data breaches every couple months. A hacker’s main objective is to steal your information and sell it on the dark web. On the dark web, the hackers are able to flip your information for more profit and they do so anonymously.
Even police departments and government offices in many states have been attacked by hackers. Hackers go after larger targets like the government using ransomware, where they continuously feed viruses into your systems—resulting in the corruption of files, loss of data and loss of time.
With hackers finding ways to get into government, corporate and personal accounts, this may leave you wondering—is your data safe? Are you their next target?
If you’re worried about your data, there are immediate steps you can take to safeguard your personal information. You could also check your credit reports yourself to make sure fraudulent accounts haven’t been opened in your name—and flag any reported balances that do not match up to your statements.
Keep cool and think through. A clear mind is more productive than a cloudy one. Here are five things you should do to protect your data.
- Change your passwords on all accounts.
First of all, change your password. Yes, change it again. Make sure to activate two-step verifications. Two-step verification is a process that involves two authentication methods performed one after the other to verify that someone or something requesting access is who or what they claim to be.
Google’s two-step verification service, for example, involves the usual password (something only the user knows) and a code sent to the user’s device (something only the user has). Most of the other current web-based user authentication systems described as two-step verification also qualify as two-factor authentication.
- Check your accounts now.
Look over your personal data with a microscope, looking for even the smallest charge. Review all withdrawals and even credit transactions.
Read—don’t just glance—your credit card and banking statements and report any suspicious activity to the bank as soon as possible.
If you find suspicious activity on your credit card, all banks allow you to freeze your card so that purchases can no longer be made. Some experts suggest being extra cautious to avoid potential future hacks.
- Don’t panic.
Be ready to spend some time and energy educating family members—even younger children, teens and young adults—who have a shared line of credit on how to be careful with sites they put personal information, credit card information and bank information. You must be able to prevent all possible threats to your credit lines.
Most banks will notify everyone who was affected by the breach, and offer them free credit monitoring and identity protection services. Take advantage of those services. But note: the monitoring service only monitors your account; they will not walk hand in hand to protect you and prevent further unknown losses.
Another option would be to invest in identity recovery services. In order to work on your behalf, any identity theft restoration service will need some form of limited power of attorney. They usually require you to fill out your initial police report and give them a copy of it as well. They may also require you to file a complaint with the FTC and give them a copy of the complaint form.
Armed with this paperwork, identity theft restoration services do all the heavy lifting. They make the calls, they send the letters and, perhaps most importantly, they have access to a legal department or an arrangement with a law firm to handle the legal aspects that invariably come up when you’re a victim of identity theft.
- Be ready to freeze your credit.
Taking the step to freeze your credit after you have noticed a security breach means that no one will be able to access your credit reports without your permission. In other words, if someone acquires your personal information and tries to take out a loan in your name, banks can’t review your report so they won’t be able to authorize the credit.
Just be aware that it could lead to inconveniences. You can unfreeze it for your own applications but there will be a short delay
- Stay vigilant.
Cybersecurity attacks happen all the time but there are some practices that could help protect your information in the future. One way to do that is to sign up for a credit monitoring service if you’re not offered one by the bank.
The key is staying vigilant
You could also check your credit reports yourself to make sure fraudulent accounts haven’t been opened in your name — and flag any reported balances that don’t match up to your statements. Do this at least once every quarter.
By: Harry Mehta- Radiant Heritage
Henry Mehta works for Radiant Heritage. Radiant Heritage is an innovative IT service provider in the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area, but primarily serves the Meadowlands area. Radiant Heritage provides variety of consulting services including connected home, cloud computing and utilizing cyber security. For more information call (201) 777-0867 or visit Http://Radiantheritage.com.