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Step Consumers Should Take After Data Breach

data breachAccording to a study, within the past year 43% of companies have experienced a data breach and of those, approximately 60% have suffered more than one breach throughout the last two years.

From 2013, figures for a single breach occurrence rose by 10%, this from a report sponsored the reporting credit bureau Experian and released by Ponemon Institute. This is bad enough but making matters even worse is the fact that most of the hacked companies are not prepared to deal with the consequences of a breach.

Recently, a number of large companies have been targeted by hackers. These include Home Depot (HD), which involved 56 million credit cards, JPMorgan (JPM), and the mega retail chain, Target (TGT). Unfortunately, 67% of the 567 US company executives surveyed said they did not have a real understanding of what to do in the aftermath of a breach specific to losing customers.

In fact, 62% of those surveyed confessed to having no confidence of responding to a breach that involved intellectual property or proprietary business information.

On the other hand, about three-fourths of companies stated a breach response plan was established but about 50% did not feel it was up to par.

Another 17% were uncertain if the plans would work and as much as 30% came right out and said the plans were completely ineffective.

Although much of the responsibility in keeping confidential information safe falls back on the companies, consumers should always take a proactive stance.

Accepting or enrolling in a free identity program offered by a breached company is a great idea and now considered standard practice among breached companies. A representative from Home Depot said the company now offers free protection to customers who paid with a credit card from April 2014 to the present time.

Steps to Protect Against Breach

If a banking institution was hacked and a customer’s card affected, the bank would provide notification but consumers can also call the bank if they were a customer during the breach period.

Some people now ask for a 90-day fraud alert from all three of the reporting credit bureaus to include Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. If a social security number were stolen, the credit bureau would place a note in the file whereby creditors must verify any further attempts to open an account in that person’s name.

A security freeze is another viable protection option, which puts information on lockdown. With this, all three of the credit reporting bureaus is prohibited from giving out a person’s information without first having their consent.

Something else to think about is that many people overlook the importance of changing computer passwords as part of a protective plan, specifically for accounts pertaining to finances.

Officials strongly recommend that consumers use two-factor authentication, which prompts an application or website to have the user perform two specific tasks.

There are many ways that consumers can protect themselves when companies are breached but one of the easiest is to review and confirm all charges on credit card statements.

Because there is a growing problem of breaches, most banks now let customers set up text or email alerts for any banking transaction over a certain dollar amount.

The problem of hackers is probably not going to go away but companies recognize this fact and are taking appropriate action.

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