3 Steps to Protect Yourself After a Security Breach

Another major cybersecurity breach made the headlines recently. In the last few years, some very high profile retail giants including Home Depot, Whole Foods and Target were hacked and sensitive customer information was stolen. The most recent incident relates to Equifax, a consumer credit rating agency. Equifax’s massive failure and cyber attack released the private information of 143 million consumers into the hands of criminals. Names, Social Security numbers and home addresses were affected in this particular breach.

Who Is Interested in Your Personal Data? 

Criminals purchase others' personal information on the “deep web” from the hackers to potentially commit identity fraud, steal money from bank accounts or take out a fraudulent mortgage in your name. In fact, your entire family’s data can be purchased from the criminal underground for as little as $20! 

Whether your personal information has already been compromised or not, it might be safer to assume that somewhere along the line it has been stolen and is available for sale. Take protective steps now to reduce the possibility of your personal data ever being used by someone else.

3 Ways to Protect Yourself From a Security Breach

1. Boost your online security: Run a reputable anti-virus scan of your computer on a regular basis and change your account password(s) at least twice per year. For additional protection, consider using a two-step authentication process when accessing your accounts. 

2. Freeze all credit reports: Consider putting a freeze on your credit report with each of the main credit bureaus to prevent the unauthorized opening of accounts in your name. You will need to freeze your credit report with each credit bureau independently (expect to pay a nominal one-time fee to set up each freeze). Note that you can easily unfreeze your credit whenever needed. To add this preventative measure, contact the credit bureaus using the information below. 

Experian

Equifax

Trans Union

1 (888) 397-3742

www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

1 (800) 685-1111

www.freeze.equifax.com

 

1 (888) 909-8872

www.transunion.com/securityfreeze

 

 

 

3. Monitor your credit closely: Monitor your credit report regularly or consider signing up for an identity theft protection service like LifeLock or Identity Guard. These companies offer monitoring services to watch for signs that an identity thief may be trying to use your information. They also provide recovery services to help you deal with the effects of identity theft, should this happen to you.

Working With a Financial Advisor

The best financial advisors are dedicated to protecting your private information and monitoring your accounts for suspicious activity. If any suspicious activity occurs, typically your advisor’s first step is to contact you to resolve the issue, then to work closely with your custodian’s identity protection services, which can be extremely helpful if your information or identity has been compromised. Our financial advisory firm has long proclaimed that Wall Street is designed to separate you from your money and we are designed to separate you from Wall Street. We hope to use these protective skills to help separate you from cybercriminals and fraudsters as well!

(For more from this author, see: Key Questions to Ask When Selecting an Advisor.)

 

Disclosure: Pring Turner is an investment advisor in Walnut Creek, CA registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The views represented herein are the investment advisor’s own and all information is obtained from sources believed to be accurate and reliable. This information should not be considered a solicitation or offer to provide any service in any jurisdiction where it would be unlawful to do so. The investment advisor is not affiliated with any company’s mentioned in this report, and this is not investment advice or an endorsement.