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BBB: How to cope with a data breach

The numbers are staggering: So far this year more than six billion records have been stolen through data breaches, already surpassing the number for all of 2016. As of June 30, there were 2,227 data breaches. Back in 2015 a group of Russian hackers stole 1.2 billion passwords. But all it really takes is one data breach that steals your personal information to make your life miserable.

That’s why your Better Business Bureau continues to warn consumers about monitoring their accounts and their credit ratings. Still, if in spite of your best efforts you become victimized by hackers, there are measures you can take to minimize the damage somewhat.

Scammers scam the aftermath

Crooks have even found a way to fool consumers who are trying to recover from the effects of a data breach. Companies often set up separate websites for their customers with information specific to a hacking incident, right after the event has been identified. The problem is that scammers take advantage of the confusion and the desperation that comes in the aftermath of a data breach. They set up their own fake (or “spoof”) websites and send phishing emails out. Thereby even more personal information can be stolen as frightened consumers think they are following proper procedures.

BBB advises consumers to always go directly to the business’ website, then follow links from there to address the data breach incident. Don’t fall for links sent in emails that may look legitimate but may in fact be from scammers.

Steps to take

When you suspect that your personal information has been compromised by a data breach, here are some things to do:

  • Act quickly. If there’s a chance your Social Security number has been acquired by a thief, you may have a rough road ahead. The sooner you take action, the better.
  • Consider freezing your credit reports. It will stop thieves from creating new fraudulent accounts in your name. Your existing credit cards and other…

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