How to protect yourself from data breach if your bank is hacked


Be proactive, whether you are a victim.

James Martin / CNET

Events like the recent Capital One breach or the broader Equifax hack in 2017 can make you feel vulnerable and helpless – and rightly so. It's one thing to have your Facebook or Twitter account compromised, but being a victim of a hacked financial institution brings a whole new level of distress.

Our bank accounts contain some of our most personal information, such as social security numbers, our credit and debit card numbers, where we live and our financial records.

When someone has all your private information, it is natural to feel that there is nothing you can do to prevent further harm. But that is not the case – there is much you can do to make sure your credit, identity, and online account remain yours.

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Capital One data breach: This is what to do


Temporarily freeze your credit

One of the first things you should do is freeze your credit. Doing so will prevent anyone with your information from opening a credit line or taking out a loan under your name. It won't take long to freeze credit; you just need to fill out a form for Equifax, Experian and Transunion to make the request.

The downside to freezing your credit is that when you want to make a purchase, such as upgrading your iPhone through a payment plan, you have to go through the process of removing the credit freeze card – and then freezing it again when you're done.

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Lock down everything you can as soon as you can.

Angela Lang / CNET

Then you can monitor your credit

Keeping up to date with what is in your credit report is a simple way to ensure that someone is not using your information in a malicious way. Some companies offer free credit monitoring to victims of a data breach, but often it's only temporary.

Credit monitoring services help you look at your credit report, where you can hopefully catch fake accounts as soon as they happen.

Sign Up for Identity Theft Monitoring

Monitoring your credit report is an important step to take, but there is so much more that can be done with your personal information. An identity surveillance service will monitor social security numbers, credit, as well as the dark web for anyone selling or trading personal information or arrests under your name. It should give you security if someone tries to do something with your personal information.

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Jason Cipriani / CNET

Use a password manager

Using a unique and powerful password for each online account you own is an easy way to ensure that a breach of a service does not lead the guys to access more of your online accounts where you used it same password.

Instead of using a password – or a series of passwords – you can rely on a password manager to automatically create, store, and fill in your login information.

Don't wait to take action

The most important thing about taking action after a hacking or breach is announced is not to wait for affected companies to announce how they want you to handle it. Be proactive. At the end of the day, your information and your financial future are at stake.

After locking down the credit and starting to monitor services, start looking at suggestions from the companies involved.

Some breaches lead to settlement, forcing the company concerned to offer free services or, as in the Equifax case, to offer settlement.

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