Tips from your BBB on Handling a Data Breach

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BBB Column for Padre Island Business Association

Emily Gaines, PR Coordinator for Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas

Major companies have made headlines this summer after data breaches have left their customers’ sensitive information unprotected. While some consumers were compensated, many are left wondering what to do if they find themselves in a similar situation. Events like these remind us that your privacy can be compromised at any time, which is why Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas is here with tips on what to do to protect yourself after a data breach.

  • Stay calm! The first thing to remember is that you shouldn’t panic. Consumers aren’t liable for fraud charges on stolen account numbers, so stay calm and contact your bank or credit provider.
  • Check reliable sources. If you hear a company that has your data has been breached, continue to check their official website for updates. Never open links from emails or social media messages that claim to have official information or updates.
  • Know who will reach out. For example, if your credit card was compromised, you’ll most likely hear from your bank or card issuer first. If you have questions or need assistance, call the customer service number on the card.
  • Freeze your credit. You may want to consider putting a freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports with the three major credit reporting agencies (you can learn more about these at bbb.org/creditfreeze). A freeze prevents anyone from accessing your credit reports or scores.
  • Check your credit report annually. If you are the potential victim of a data breach, checking your credit report can tell you if any damage has been done. However, checking your report annually is a good habit for anyone. AnnualCreditReport.com is the only website approved by the FTC to provide consumers with a free annual credit report.
  • Monitor your credit card statements. Keeping a close eye on your credit statement can alert you if a fraudulent charge was made. You can also keep your receipts if you want to prove which purchases you did or did not authorize.
  • Contact your bank. If your debit card was compromised, it may be best to contact your bank and get a new one. Debit cards don’t always have the same protections as credit cards, and funds can be taken straight out of your account if that information is left unprotected. Call your bank to see what the best steps to take are.
  • Watch out for scammers. Scammers will likely use situations like this as opportunities to send phishing emails. They may ask you to confirm your banking or personal information. Never open links from unfamiliar senders or give sensitive information to people you don’t know.

Emily Gaines, PR Coordinator for Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas

At BBB, we want consumers to feel safe in the marketplace. For more tips and resources, including an online guide to cybersecurity for businesses, visit us at bbb.org.