Earlier this morning it was reported that a Russian group hacked more than one billion usernames and passwords belonging to over 500 million email addresses. Being called the largest data breach ever, the stolen information came from more than 420,000 websites, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses.
While light is still being shed on the findings, BBB serving San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties is warning consumers of the dangers of identity theft and imploring them to take the necessary steps to protect their information, including:
1) Change your passwords: Even if it hasn't been confirmed that your data has been compromised, it is recommended that you change your passwords immediately. When creating a new password, it is important they are at least 10 characters long and contain a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers an symbols.
2) Place a fraud alert on your credit report: If you believe your account has been compromised, it may be a good idea for you to place a fraud alert on your credit report. Doing so is free and the alert will remain active for 90 days (an option to renew the alert is available after it expires). Taking this step makes it harder for an identity theif to open more accounts in your name.
3) Keep a close eye or credit & debit accounts: While large charges on your credit and debit cards will be obvious to detect, keep an eye out for smaller charges; sometimes scammers start with minimal transactions to see if they are noticed. If you see any unauthorized amount on your account, alert your banking institution or credit card company immediately to dispute the charge.
4) Never use email to communicate sensitive information: Don't respond to emails that ask you to verify your personal information or identifiers. Neither your bank, credit card company, online payment system, the business that was hacked or the FTC will call or email asking for your confidential information (i.e. credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc.)
5) Report any detected fraud: If your account(s) have been compromised, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can do so online by clicking here or by calling 877-438-4338.
If you have any questions regarding identity theft, how to protect your information or general information on data breaches, please contact your local BBB serving San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties at 858-496-2131 or by visiting bbb.org