How to Protect Yourself from a Data Breach (Equifax)
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How to Protect Yourself from a Data Breach (Equifax)

Protecting your personal and financial data after a data breach is your responsibility. Take control of your information with this easy-to-follow plan that minimizes surprises and helps you quickly restore order.

The data breach that the consumer credit reporting agency Equifax announced on September 7, 2017 impacted about 100,000 Canadian consumers at the latest count. Criminals got credit card numbers for about 209,000 people in the U.S. and more in Britain were also affected.

Unfortunately, it seems that security breaches are a reality that isn’t going away any time soon. Here’s how to stay vigilant and take action.

1. Set Up a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report

If you’re trying to protect or improve your credit score, the last worry you want to have is finding out about fraudulent activity after it has occurred. The Globe and Mail advises Canadian consumers to set up fraud alerts.

An alert means credit bureaus have to verify your identity when you ask to see your credit reports. It’s another level of security that makes it difficult for fraudsters to get your information.

2. Monitor Statements for Suspicious Activity

Don’t toss aside paper statements or ignore the electronic ones from your bank and credit card company. Scan them when they’re ready and look for charges that you didn’t make. The few minutes it takes to look through them once a month can save you hours and prevent headaches if you need to call and raise questions.

3. Be Wary of Online Freebie Sign-ups

It’s one thing to give out personal information for essentials like utility services or car loans. But proceed with caution for contests or websites that entice you to sign up for free products or coupons using personal financial information.

4. Look for Website Warning Signs

Shopping online is more convenient than ever, but some websites are designed as scams. How can you tell if a website is sketchy? Here are a few clues:

  • Sites don’t have phone numbers or contain many broken links,
  • Credit card information requests surface even when you’re not purchasing,
  • Sales and privacy policies are hard to find or are confusing to read,
  • The ‘back’ button is disabled. In other words, you get stuck on a page and can’t go back.

Criminals and anti-cyber theft technologists are constantly trying to outdo each other. Take control where you can. It’s not difficult, but protecting your credit is worth your attention.

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