You’ve Been Hacked. Now What?
Nov 1, 2019 | 3 min. read
Despite your best efforts, you’re the latest casualty of fraud. Follow these steps to minimize damage and get back on your feet.
News reports of widespread data breaches are commonplace these days, including the hacking of far-reaching brands such as Target, Marriott and Equifax. Hopefully, you’ve taken appropriate steps to safeguard your information from these types of security failures and other scams, as outlined in Preventing Fraud as a Veteran or Military Member. Even with these precautions, though, the worst can still happen.
Are there charges on your credit or debit card that seem out of place? Has someone you know received an email from you asking for money? Did you respond to a request for personal information over the phone? All these scenarios should put you on high alert that your information has been compromised. Luckily, there are consumer and military-specific resources to help you recover. The FTC and Military Consumer recommend the following immediate actions:
- Shut down access to affected financial accounts by calling the relevant bank or financial company. Change all related passwords and PINs.
- Contact one of the three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian or TransUnion to place a fraud alert. This will require creditors to verify your identity before issuing a new account in your name. The fraud alert is free and good for one year. Once you contact one of the credit bureaus, they are obligated to notify the other two.
- Order a free credit bureau report from AnnualCreditReport.com to make sure there is no additional fraudulent activity that has gone undetected.
- Contact the FTC if your identity has been stolen. They will help you develop a step-by-step recovery plan complete with customized checklists, sample letters and expert guidance.
- Make sure your commanding officer is aware of the situation in case they receive collection calls about debt not belonging to you.
Now that you’ve stopped the bleeding, adopt these preventive measures:
- Limit your internet activity to secure networks and websites. Avoid public WiFi.
- Purchase a security suite for your computer. PCMag recently reviewed and rated the best protection software.
- Sign up for FTC Consumer Alerts to make sure you’re in the know.
- Use strong, distinct passwords for every account, security questions that are not easily searchable and multi-factor authentication. No matter how good your memory is, you should consider using a password manager to help you keep track.
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