In response, state officials have released suggestions for ways consumers guard can against threats in the following ways:
• Create Strong Passwords for Online Accounts and Update Them Frequently. Use different passwords for different accounts, especially for websites where you have disseminated sensitive information, such as credit card or Social Security numbers.
• Carefully Monitor Credit Card and Debit Card Statements Each Month. If you find any abnormal transactions, contact your bank or credit card agency immediately.
• Do Not Write Down or Store Passwords Electronically. If you do, be extremely careful of where you store passwords. Be aware that any passwords stored electronically (such as in a word processing document or cell phone’s notepad) can be easily stolen and provide fraudsters with one-stop shopping for all your sensitive information. If you hand-write passwords, do not store them in plain sight.
• Do Not Post Any Sensitive Information on Social Media. Information such as birthdays, addresses, and phone numbers can be used by fraudsters to authenticate account information. Practice data minimization techniques. Don’t overshare.
• Always Be Aware of the Current Threat Landscape. Stay up to date on media reports of data security breaches and consumer advisories.
In addition, the following steps are recommended if you believe you have been victimized by a data security breach:
• User Names and Passwords. Change user names and passwords immediately on the relevant account and monitor the account for unusual activity. If you use the same user name or password on other accounts, change those as well.
• Credit Card Numbers. For breaches involving credit card numbers, social security numbers, and other sensitive numbers, create an Identity Theft Report by filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and printing your Identity Theft Affidavit. You can call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-4338 or complete the form online here. Use the Identity Theft Affidavit to file a police report and create your Identity Theft Report. An Identity Theft Report will help you deal with credit reporting companies, debt collectors, and any fraudulent accounts that the identity thief opened in your name. You may also want to put a fraud alert and/or security freeze on your credit report by notifying each of the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian). A security freeze is the strongest protection for your credit and remains on your credit file until you remove it or choose to lift it temporarily when applying for credit services.
For more information on how to help protect sensitive personal information against unauthorized disclosures click here.