July 10, 2024 Security

Protecting Yourself After Information Exposure

In today’s digital age, data breaches have become a common occurrence. It never hurts to be prepared in case your information is ever compromised. Here are the steps you should take to protect yourself: 

1. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) 

Adding an extra layer of security can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access. Enable 2FA on all accounts that offer it, especially banking and email accounts. This typically involves receiving a code on your mobile device or using an authentication app. This way, no one can access your information because they will not have access to these additional security measures. 

2. Monitor Financial Statements and Get Alerts 

Watch for suspicious activity by periodically reviewing recent transactions on your accounts through your financial institution’s online or mobile banking platform. Do they all look familiar? Keep a mental note of your spending over the next days or weeks and double-check your notes with your account statement. Report any unauthorized transactions to your bank immediately.  

You can also set up alerts for transactions over a certain amount to stay informed in real time. Set up any security alerts your bank or credit union may offer as well to ensure you are notified if anything suspicious occurs. 

3. Place Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes 

If you feel the breach is severe, you can contact one of the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) to place a fraud alert on your credit report. This alerts the credit bureau when someone is trying to open an account in your name and makes it significantly harder for them. You may also consider setting a credit freeze, which restricts access to your credit report altogether, making it impossible for larger purchases or lenders to gain access to your credit. This service is often free and can be managed easily on each credit bureau’s website.

4. Check Your Credit Reports and Monitor Your Credit 

If you would like, you can obtain copies of your credit reports from the major credit bureaus and review them for any signs of fraud. You’re entitled to one free report per bureau each year via AnnualCreditReport.com. Some banks, like WeStreet Credit Union, also offer free credit score monitoring through online and mobile banking to help you monitor your credit at all times. 

5. Educate Yourself and Stay Informed 

Stay informed about the latest security practices and threats. Educate yourself on how to recognize and respond to potential risks. Regularly update your knowledge to stay ahead of potential exposure. 

Taking immediate and proactive steps can help protect your personal and financial information. By staying vigilant and adopting good security habits, you can minimize vulnerabilities and safeguard your identity. 

Check out these other articles to learn more about how you can protect your information and identify: