If you follow the news, you’ve likely seen the frequent headlines on data breaches. The details vary, but in each breach, sensitive information from thousands, millions, or even billions of individuals becomes compromised, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft.
At Northern Credit Union, your peace of mind and account security are our top priority. To help keep your information and finances secure, check out our top tips on what to do if you’ve been affected by a data breach.
What’s a data breach?
Data breaches occur when sensitive information is accessed or used without the owner’s authorization. Factors like online data and sophisticated hacking tools have spurred a steep increase in data breaches in recent years, causing damage to both consumers and businesses.
After a data breach
When you hear about a major data breach that might affect you, monitor your accounts for suspicious activity. In most cases, you’ll be notified if your data has been compromised; however, it helps to keep an eye on your accounts even if you haven’t been contacted so you can reduce damage by acting quickly. At Northern, we encourage members to call or stop into your nearest relationship center with any questions or concerns regarding your account security.
If you’re affected
If your information has been compromised in a data breach, take the following steps to help keep your information safe:
1) Freeze and monitor your credit
Placing a freeze on your credit is the most crucial step you can take to stop scammers from gaining access to your information. This added layer of protection will make it difficult or impossible for hackers to open a new line of credit, bank account or loan in your name.
Check your credit accounts for suspicious activity regularly. You can request a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com.
2) Change your passwords
Hackers often hold onto victims’ information immediately following a data breach and sell it months down the line to other cybercriminals through the Dark Web. To protect your accounts from further unauthorized access, we recommend changing all of your passwords after a breach has occurred.
Use strong, unique passwords for each account, and choose codes that are at least eight characters long. A strong password includes a variety of numbers, letters, and symbols or special characters. It’s also a good idea to choose two-factor authentication whenever possible.
3) File an identity theft report
If you believe your identity has been stolen, file an identity theft report with the FTC or call 1.877.438.4338 as soon as possible.
Reporting identity theft online will prompt an identity theft report and recovery plan to be generated which can help you track your progress and provide additional resources to recover your identity as quickly as possible. These reports are particularly helpful for law enforcement personnel if you choose to file with your local city or state police.
4) Use EZShield to protect your information
Northern Credit Union has partnered with EZShield to offer affordable, top-of-the-line identity theft protection to our members. EZShield monitors personal identifiable information including:
- One Social Security number per account
- Individual name, street address, driver’s license, and up to 3 phone numbers
- Up to five passports
- Up to 10 emails
- Up to 10 medical ID cards
- Up to 10 bank accounts, credit, and debit cards
- Up to 5 passports