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Ways to Minimize Your Exposure to a Data Breach

What are you to do when it comes to protecting yourself from having your information stolen? Here are some tips to minimize your vulnerability.

Ways to Minimize Your Exposure to a Data Breach

Given how customary it is in our society to provide data, consumers are largely "dependent on (the security)" of merchants and other third parties that collect and store personal and payment information, says Patrick Peterson, founder and CEO of data security solutions provider Agari (, Skowronski, 2015).

While there is no guarantee you will never be affected by data breaches, there are several things you can do to limit the information you leave behind and lessen your susceptibility of being breached.

Things You Can Do To Help Keep Your Data Safe 

  1. Limit the number of third parties you give your information to; especially when providing information online. 
  2. When shopping online, make sure payment web pages are encrypted. Scammers are good at creating legitimate-looking websites in an attempt to collect your payment information. To determine if a website is encrypted, inspect the address bar by looking for the company name and a padlock image next to the webpage address (URL).
  3. Do not click on links in emails that are unsolicited or suspicious. The links could be malicious and cause harm to your computer or steal your information. There are several  .  
  4. Resist the opportunity to store your credit card information on frequently visited websites. It may be a slight inconvenience to input your credit card information each time but imagine the inconvenience of dealing with your data being stolen.
  5. Limit the type of information legitimate companies keep on file. For example, when asked for your Social Security Number, ask why it is needed and whether you can provide the last four digits instead of the entire number.
  6. Avoid the urge to overshare on social media. This is a big no-no. We recently saw an individual post a photo of their new driver’s license. His name, address and license number were visible for just about anyone in the world to see and then use to steal his identity.
  7. Frequently change PINs and passwords to personal accounts. Just as you change the oil in your car, create the habit of regularly changing this information.  
  8. Create strong passwords with at least eight characters -- a number, a symbol, a lowercase and uppercase letter and even misspelled words. We talk about creating secure passwords in  our article, “Creating Secure Passwords”.
  9. Upgrade your card to a more secure payment method. If you have not received a new EMV chip card, you may want to contact your card issuer to ask when you can get a new credit card with this enhanced technology. Other options are to use cash or make the switch to alternative mobile payments like Apply Pay, Android Pay, or Samsung Pay.
  10. If you think you've been breached, contact the credit bureau  to put a fraud alert on your account and sign up for credit monitoring. Be prepared to regularly review your credit report for unauthorized activity and nip it in the bud.

What to Do If You Are Notified of a Breach

If you are notified that your information may have been compromised due to a data breach resist the urge to panic.

Instead, read the information about the breach carefully. If the company offers free identity theft monitoring, sign up. Go ahead and request a copy of your credit report as well and verify no unauthorized activity has occurred.

If you notice any unusual charges or new accounts you did not open, request your free credit report and activate a fraud alert.

Monitor all financial accounts for suspicious charges. Should any appear, call the card issuer(s) to dispute the charges and have the card replaced. It is advisable to change your passwords across all accounts to ensure thieves don't gain access to more personal or payment information.

Play it smart. Be aware and cautious when it comes to protecting your identity. It is a small price to pay if you can successfully avoid being involved in a data breach.





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