In today’s online world, we hear of massive data breaches every year. And, perhaps more likely than not, you may also have had some of your data breached.

Consider the major breaches that have been in the news lately – 143 million people affected through the Equifax breach in 2017, 327 million people affected from a Marriott data breach, and, back in 2013 and 2014, 3 billion people affected in the Yahoo data breach.

While a lot of these breaches deal with less-sensitive data like names and addresses, many also concern data such as emails, credit card information, and some even social insurance numbers. So, what should you do if some of your information has been breached?

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Let us go through some simple steps.

Step 1: Determine what was taken.

Simply put, you need to know what was stolen when considering your response. Not every data breach results in the same thing being stolen. Sometimes it’s only your address, other times it’s your credit card information.

In many countries, including Canada and the United States, there are laws in place which require corporations to report data breaches. These laws also typically require the corporation to include the type of data being stolen.

Even if the corporation does not report it to you and you suspect your data has been breached, there are other ways of determining stolen data.

Step 2: Change Passwords

Once you know what kind of breach you were involved in, it’s time to take action.

Often, you’ll get emails from corporations concerning what your next steps should be following a data breach. However, it has been found that scammers often send similar emails to fraud victims. Be sure that whatever information you choose to follow comes directly from the corporation’s official website or an official representative.

Something that you can easily do is change your passwords. If you ever get word of a security breach, one of the first things you should do is change the passwords of any accounts you think may be affected right away. Taking this precaution can really help prevent any attack.

But, remember to create a strong and unique password. The trade-off between password strength and your ease of memory should not be one you entertain, especially when it concerns your finances or personal information.

Step 3: Contact your credit card companies

If you suspect your credit card information is compromised, be sure to take action quickly before any funds are used.

Find out how to contact your credit card provider as soon as possible. Simply by googling “[financial institution] how to report credit card fraud” should bring up that institution’s information on how to combat the fraud.

You should also consider doing a ‘credit freeze’ via your financial institution, temporarily restricting access to your credit.

Finally, be sure to keep a close eye on your credit card account. Note any suspicious payments, and be ready to take action if need be.

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Step 4: Escalate, if necessary

If the data breach is more serious than the previously described steps and perhaps leads to actual identity theft, contact the authorities. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre provides quality information and contacts to escalate.

In the end, the two keywords you should remember when dealing with data breaches is speed and effectiveness. Do not hesitate in dealing with this problem – the longer you take in responding, the more time you give cybercriminals to defraud you. Being effective in your response by contacting the right people also increases the speed of your response.