How To Deal With A Data Breach
When it comes to securing personal data, there are two types of consumers:
— those who have had their personal information exposed through a data breach and those who potentially will in the future. Which group is larger is anybody’s guess. But there’s no doubt that data breaches are becoming common and that it’s common sense for consumers to know what to do if it happens to them.
In 2017’s first half, according to Irving, Texas-based data security firm Trend Micro, data breaches were revealed involving more records than in all of 2016. That included sensitive information belonging to 145 million customers of credit reporting agency Equifax, 57 million Uber drivers, 198 million voters exposed by a political research firm leak and 14 million Verizon customers. Also last year, Yahoo! revealed that 3 billion user accounts were exposed in 2013.
Hackers sell stolen data to identity thieves to commit fraud on financial institutions and merchants. They penetrate computer databases because of security slipups including using software that hasn’t been updated with the latest security patches, failure to properly configure security settings and simple human error.
Database owners who learn of a breach must notify people whose data has been exposed. So you may learn your data has been stolen when you get a letter or email from a company with which you do business.
If that happens, the Federal Trade Commission’s IdentifyTheft.gov recommends these first steps:
- Call the breached company and freeze or close affected accounts.
- Change account log-in information, passwords and PINs.
- Contact Equifax, Experian or TransUnion to place a free, 90-day fraud alert on your records.
- Request a free credit report from all three agencies at annualcreditreport.com.
- Report to the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov or by calling (877) 438-4338.
- Consider reporting it to your local police.
Also ask the company that experienced the breach if you can enroll in a fraud victim assistance program. And let credit unions, credit card companies and other fi nancial institutions know your information may have been compromised.
Later you may close affected accounts, remove bogus charges and make any necessary corrections to your credit report. You may also ask credit agencies for an extended fraud alert or credit freeze.
Preventing data loss
To prevent loss in the first place, keep your own computer software up to date with current security patches. Never download apps or software from pop-up ads or sites that don’t belong to the software company.
This last tip is important because of the rising risk of ransomware — malware that lets cybercriminals lock up data on a computer behind an unbreakable code, then demand a payment for the decoder key. Ransomware demands more than doubled last year and, unlike fraud losses that are covered by merchants and financial institutions, this cybercrime can take a bite directly out of your pocket.
As long as personal data is stored in giant databases in the cloud, risks of data breaches will continue. Businesses and consumers are more alert than ever, but criminals keep devising new techniques to pry personal information from digital depositories.
In Europe, laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation going into effect in 2018, place comprehensive requirements on businesses to protect personal data. U.S. individual protections are more uneven, so it’s up to every consumer to watch out for their data themselves.
American Airlines Federal Credit Union
Did you know that you can receive fraud text alerts if any suspicious activity is detected on your Credit Union credit cards? If you have our Platinum Rewards, low-rate or Business card, sign up now for an added sense of security. Log in on AACreditUnion.org, click on your credit card account details page and select “Enroll Fraud Text Alerts.”
Top 10 scams experienced by Credit Union member-owners:
Online Work Scam
You’ve got the job, now give us personally identifiable information and/or disburse money to external accounts as directed.
Pay Day Loan
You’ve gotten the loan, but first you need to pay a deposit or insurance.
Car Sales Scam
You receive a check for the auto, but the buyer wants you to send transportation costs somewhere.
A loved one you communicate with via internet has fallen on hard times and needs money ASAP.
You receive a check to shop for us. Buy moneygrams, gift cards, song downloads, etc. and send them somewhere or give the codes via text.
Online Sales Scam
You receive a check for the item, but the buyer overpays and wants you to send money elsewhere for any reason.
Car Wrap Scam
You receive a check for putting advertising on your car. The payer wants you to take the extra funds from the check to pay the vendor to do the actual wrap, while you keep the remainder.
Email requesting help transferring large sums of money.
Online School Grant Scam
You receive a check for the grant, but are expected to pay “origination” or other fees out of the check.
Tax refund scam
You owe money to the government and you will be arrested if you don’t pay now.