Data breaches can put your social security number, your passwords and even your credit card information into the wrong hands.
Industry experts say there are 1,500 large-scale data breaches on average each year and the trend continues to grow. Some companies will inform you of a data breach and what information is at risk. You can also look online yourself to find out what information was compromised. This website will tell you if it is your email address, phone number, or password.
If you get an alert your password was compromised, change it right away. You also need to be on guard for scammers reaching out to you about a bogus data breach. Mallory Wojciechowski with the Better Business Bureau of North Carolina says: "They may reach out to you and say your information has been compromised, click this link for more information and that can be a scam. So if you do receive an email such as that, we advise reaching out to the company directly to see if you truly were impacted."
Always consider two-factor authentication for an extra layer of protection. If your social security number or financial information were part of a data breach, freezing your credit is a smart option since it restricts access to your credit history.
The Better Business Bureau provides these tips to avoid Data Breach scams:
- Check to see if you've been affected. Visit the company website and watch your email for additional information on the breach. Oftentimes, the affected company will send emails to consumers that are impacted.
- Watch out for phishing attacks. Be on the lookout for scammers claiming to be from the affected company telling you that your information has been compromised and to click on a link. When in doubt, contact the company directly.
- Obtain a copy of your credit report. Go to annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to get a free copy of your credit report. You can get one free copy of your report from each of the three credit bureaus once a year.
- Monitor your accounts regularly. Check every charge on your statements. Scammers often test cards with smaller charges before racking up large bills. Confirm each charge on your account line by line. Sign up for alerts on your credit card, debit, and bank accounts