Tips for Living in a Data Breach Era

6 March 2016

Time and time again, 2014 has been referred to as “the year of the data breach.” While the year that saw 43 percent of companies experience a data breach may have seemed deserving of the superlative at its close, the 12 months that followed showed 2014 was not unique. In fact, time would suggest it was merely the beginning of what would become a new “data breach era.”

In this new landscape not only are corporations investing more than they ever had to stay ahead of cyber criminals, but consumers, too, have had to rethink their behavior when it comes to offering up their personal data. Here are three tips that can help you protect your identity in the age of the data breach.

  1. Don’t recycle passwords
    Would you feel safe if the lock on your door was the same as your neighbors’? What if every house on your street had matching locks? If just one of your neighbors lost his or her key the entire neighborhood would be at risk of a break-in. Setting your passwords works the same way. Any time you create a new account, whether it’s for your bank, an online retailer or even a social media site, create a unique password. That way, if your credentials for one site get compromised, the others will still be safe.
  2. Designate a separate credit card for online purchases
    Online shopping is convenient, quick and can even help you find deals and save cash. So, while it is no secret that sharing your financial information with online retailers can make you more susceptible to data breaches, it may not be realistic to avoid making purchases online altogether. One way to mitigate the risk of identity theft if a data breach should occur at one of your favorite online retailers is to designate one specific credit card you only use for online purchases. That way, if your payment information is stolen from any site, you will only have to have one of your cards reissued.
    Choosing to make this card a credit card with a low limit can offer even further identity theft protection, as it would restrict ID thieves from racking up large debt totals or directly accessing the funds in your bank account.
  3. Regularly check your account statements and credit report
    One of the most difficult things for consumers to accept about data breaches is that, try as they might, consumers are ultimately at the mercy of businesses to keep their personal data safe. No matter how vigilant you are with your own data, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of regularly reviewing your bank statements and credit report. Checking these documents carefully can alert you to any unauthorized use of your accounts that could indicate your information was compromised in a breach.

Signing up for a credit monitoring service can help you stay in tune to not only the activity on your credit accounts, but also how your personal information is being used across a number of internet sources. With automatic notifications keeping you up to date with certain activity that may indicate fraud, credit monitoring companies can bolster the identity protection of even those who check their statements carefully already. Contact Identity Guard today to learn more.