BBB presents five tips for dealing with data breaches
On the heels of a massive data breach reported by credit-monitoring company Equifax, more than 140 million Americans and an "undisclosed number of Canadians*," have had their personal information exposed. Better Business Bureau is warning Canadian consumers to be cautious when sharing personal information, and to regularly monitor financial statements.
What kind of information has been breached?
- Consumers' names
- Social Insurance Numbers
What can happen if your information has been exposed?
- Risk of identity theft: If your personal information falls into the wrong hands, criminals can commit fraudulent activity, or apply for new credit, property titles or loans under your name without your knowledge.
- Lost funds: Your bank accounts can be completely drained within a matter of minutes, or smaller amounts withdrawn over an extended period of time.
"If you are suspicious about whom or what organization is requesting your information, check with the BBB to ensure you are dealing with a trustworthy business," says Mary O'Sullivan-Andersen, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay. "Understand that even well-known and reputable businesses are not immune to data breaches, and carefully monitor your credit reports and bank statements so that you can act quickly if you discover your information has been compromised."
In the wake of a data breach, BBB encourages consumers to take the following action:
- Check credit reports and account statements - Check your bank account, credit card statements and credit report regularly to spot suspicious or unauthorized charges early.
- Act quickly - You need to act fast to dispute the charges and to limit your liability for charges or withdrawals you did not authorize. Many credit card providers have "zero liability" protection after you report the loss or theft of your credit card or having your card compromised in a breach. Some credit card providers may have a limited time frame to report or dispute such charges.
- Monitor your accounts - It is important to routinely monitor your credit and banks statements. It is not necessary to pay for expensive monitoring or fraud detection services. You can check your credit report by contacting your bank or credit card provider.
- Avoid fake emails - Do not respond to emails you may receive with offers to help you in an attack. Many of these emails may be phishing emails created by scammers. Do not click on any links or provide any personal information that may be requested. If you have concerns personally, contact your financial institution or credit card issuer to verify the email is from them.
- Consider credit freezes/alerts - Putting a credit freeze on your account will prevent any lender from accessing your credit reports or scores as part of a credit application.This means you cannot apply for new credit without lifting the freeze. A fraud alert flags your credit reports, alerting potential lenders to verify the identity of anyone attempting to open an account in your name.
How to find out if your information has been exposed:
Leah Brownridge, Media and Corporate Communications Specialist
Better Business Bureau Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local,independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, which was founded in 1954 and garners more than one million instances of service annually.
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