5 Things You Should Do After a Major Data Breach

data breach

From Target to Yahoo, many big corporations experienced a serious data breach in the past year. Even if you don’t usually shop at a compromised retailer or use a certain email provider, your personal information and logins may be at risk.

If you have been the victim of a data breach, it’s important to take certain steps to protect yourself and your finances.

Five steps you should take after a data breach.

1. Consider freezing your credit

After an incident like the Target data breach, a credit freeze can be a smart way to protect your credit and keep thieves from opening accounts in your name.

Sometimes called a security freeze, freezing your credit restricts access to your report. That makes it more difficult for criminals to open accounts in your name. To approve a new line of credit, lenders or credit card companies need to view your credit report. If a credit freeze is on, they cannot open it, and will not approve a new account. A credit freeze does not affect your credit score.

To put a freeze on your account, contact the three credit reporting bureaus — it’s important to contact all three to ensure your credit report is protected:

If needed, you can lift a credit freeze temporarily, such as applying for a new apartment or a mortgage. When you are ready to permanently remove the freeze, contact each credit bureau and ask them to end it.

While a credit freeze can be a useful strategy, keep in mind identity thieves can still rack up charges on existing accounts; they just cannot open new ones.

Even after you put a credit freeze on your account, monitor your current credit cards and bank accounts for unauthorized charges.

2. Monitor your credit report

After a data breach, review a copy of your credit report. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus every 12 months.

In the case of a data breach, it’s a good idea to stagger when you look at each credit report. Since fraudsters can use your information months after a data breach is identified, reviewing your report often can help catch fraudulent activity.

A good strategy is to request one report every four months. For example, in January, request your credit report from Equifax. Then in May, take out a report from Experian. Finally, in September, check your report from TransUnion. That way, you can continuously check your credit without paying for a fresh report.

3. Update your passwords

If a major data breach happens, it’s important to take action even if you don’t think any of your financial information was compromised. Even if the thieves do not get your account information, just having your email and password can be enough for them to cause you plenty of trouble.

Many people use the same passwords on multiple sites, so once they’re armed with your password, thieves can log in to bank accounts, store sites, and more.

After a data breach, change your passwords, particularly for your bank and credit card accounts. You can use a service like Dashlane or Last Pass to come up with site-specific, secure passwords, without having to remember all of them.

4. Contact your financial institutions

Your credit card companies and banks are experts on data breaches and fraud. After a data breach, call your financial institutions and ask if a new card is necessary. In some cases, their security experts will advise you that it is not needed. In others, they may think your account is at risk and will ship you a new card.

Getting a new credit card or debit card can be a hassle, but it can save you from unauthorized charges. Even if no activity has taken place, it can still be a good idea to get a new card.

5. Sign up for credit protection

When companies are attacked by hackers, they have a duty to protect their customers. After having information compromised, offering credit protection to consumers is usually part of their settlement. That means you may have free access to credit monitoring services and free credit reports, which can help you track any activity done in your name.

If you shopped or used services with an affected company, contact their customer service to see if they will provide credit protection. Services are generally offered free of charge for up to one year.

Stay diligent

A data breach can be a major problem, with long-lasting consequences. Even if you do not see any activity, stay diligent and continually monitor your credit report and accounts. That way, you can catch fraudulent behavior as soon as it occurs, increasing the odds of having it removed from your account.

For more information on managing your credit, check out this article on what should (and shouldn’t) be on your credit report.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2018!
LenderRates (APR)Loan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
  2. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 5.49% APR to 14.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.29% APR to 11.44% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of December 1, 2017 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.29% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.34% plus 4.20% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Fixed interest rates range from 5.99% – 16.24% (5.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Lowest rates shown are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Benefit: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7.39% - 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upstart
5.29% - 14.24%1$5,000 - $100,000Visit SoFi
8.00% - 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000Visit Payoff
5.99% - 16.24%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
5.99% - 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.25% - 14.24%$2,000 - $50,000Visit Earnest
Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print, understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.