Data Breach Aftermath – How to Protect Your Information

Published on Jun 19, 2014 09:56 am

Data breaches pop up in the news more often these days. But do you know how to protect yourself before and after a data breach? Often times there may be action taken immediately after a data breach, but it’s really important to protect your identity all the time – 24/7, 365 days a year.

Those who have been a victim of identity theft are much more concerned about their identity being at risk for years, or even forever, according to a 2014 study from Experian® Data Breach Resolution and the Ponemon Institute. But are you doing enough to protect yourself before and after a data breach?

What You Can Do To Protect Yourself Before a Data Breach

  • Be ‘in the know.’ One of the first things to do is to be aware of what is going on in your area, with the companies you do business with and online. Scams can pop up in the news, so it’s important to know what is out there so you can be on the lookout for potential risks. It’s also important to read the terms and conditions or any security information that you receive, especially from your banking institutions and social networking sites where you share personal information.
  • Don’t give out personal information unless you have to do so. You will sometimes be asked for your social security number, but did you know that you often don’t actually have to provide it? Mike Bruemmer, VP of Data Breach Resolution for Experian, recommends that you try to say “no” first and complete a transaction without it. If you are told it’s required to move forward, make sure you know the security measures the company or organization takes with your personal information. You will need to provide a social security number for things such as checking your credit through a credit monitoring product, processing a loan or filling out a credit card application.
  • Know where you stand with your own credit and accounts. Ignoring your bank statements or just scanning over credit card statements can be dangerous, as you could miss important information or signs of potential identity theft. It’s also a good idea to check your credit report regularly so you have a better chance of finding something fraudulent sooner rather than later since identity theft can hurt your credit.


What Should You Do After a Data Breach?

  • Read the information you get from companies that you have accounts with and do business with regularly. Don’t assume something is junk mail or delete emails immediately. Carefully review the information and pay attention to what they say is compromised as well as if they recommend any action.
  • Not everyone who has been a part of a data breach becomes a victim of identity theft or fraud. Hopefully you won’t. But if your identity is stolen, you’ll want to take steps to start the process to address the fraud immediately. These steps include contacting one of the three major credit reporting bureaus to report the suspicious activity or information.
  • Don’t stop looking at your statements and credit. Stay vigilant. It’s easy to keep on top of things right after a data breach because it’s top of mind. But, six months, one year or several years later, you could still be at risk.

One of the most important things you can do is to make sure you’re protecting yourself and your personal information all the time. While you can’t control whether or not you’re affected by a data breach, you can proactively take steps to protect your identity… and act quickly if something does happen.

This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.

Published by permission from, Inc., an Experian company.   © 2014, Inc.  All rights reserved.

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