If you’ve been affected by a data breach, you’re part of the billions who’ve unfortunately been affected by cyber attacks since 2010. Cyber attackers tend to target big companies with massive databases, which can be bad news for the countless number of customers who share their information with them.

If you’ve gotten word that your information was affected in a data breach, don’t panic. It’s important you understand exactly what information was compromised and ways in which you can mediate its impact on you. If you’ve received a letter from an organization or learned that your information has fallen victim to a cyber attack, we’ve got you covered. Follow the steps below and most importantly, stay calm.

Contact the company/organization

As soon as you find you information may have been stolen in a data breach, you’ll want to contact the company/organization containing the information and confirm the breach, as well as find out what type of information was compromised.

If you’ve received a letter from an organization letting you know your information has been affected by a breach, your first step is to find out how much, and what type of information was stolen. .

When speaking with the company, make sure to mention the following:

  • Confirm the breach occurred and ask what information was stolen
  • Confirm that your information was exposed in the breach & ask if your social security and personal identifiable information (PII) numbers were accessed
  • Ask what the company/organization is doing to help those affected

Contact an attorney

If your sensitive information was compromised due to a data breach, you may be able to hold the institution accountable. As happened in the aftermath of the Marriott’s massive data breach in 2018, institutions have the liability to maintain a strong level of security to protect their customers from these types of hacks. When data breaches happen from negligent security, a data breach attorney can help you seek compensation for the damages the breach caused you. This could include attorney fees for identity theft.

Update passwords

Update all passwords and ensure they don’t contain personal information that can easily be guessed, like nicknames, birthdays, etc. Use new and secured passwords. You can always use a password generator tool that will generate completely random passwords for you to use. If you feel weary about using those exact passwords, you can always add characters to that password to make it even more secure.

Replace credit cards & inform your Financial Institutions of the breach

If the breach included your credit card and bank information, contact all of your financial institutions as soon as possible and let them know your situation. The earlier they know, the more they’ll be able to help you.

Monitor all accounts closely

A frustrating part of being the victim of a data breach is the uncertainty as to what information was compromised and what hackers will actually do with that information. Make sure to monitor all financial accounts closely throughout the next 6 months to a year. If reviewing all financial statements regularly seems like too much of a hassle, there are several companies that will do it for you. Most of the time, the paid services tend to provide the most protection.

Be Hopeful

Data breaches are unfortunate and frustrating – but they happen quite often. While this isn’t necessarily good news, it does mean that not all breaches result in financially catastrophic identity thefts. Do what you can to protect yourself and then relax and see how things play out.