Finding out someone has cracked open your accounts and helped themselves to your information can be alarming, but there are ways to mitigate the damage while jump-starting your recovery process.
Here are five steps to take after being hacked.
Step 1: Assess The Damage
First, take a step back and determine how much damage was done. Unfortunately, one hacked password can often be the gateway to multiple hacked accounts and even complete identity theft. This is especially true if you use the same password for several accounts, or use the hacked account or device for password recovery on other accounts. So, first things first: Review your credit card and account statements for any suspicious activity. Also, try accessing your email, social media accounts and mobile devices to see if they’ve been compromised as well.
Step 2: Change Your Passwords
Once you know which accounts and devices have been affected, change the passwords and PINs on these accounts. Remember to choose strong, unique passwords for every account. A strong password uses a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. And be sure to not use a piece of personal information that can easily be scraped off the internet, such as your date of birth or home address.
While completing this step, consider signing up for two-factor authentication for any accounts that do not already have it in place.
Step 3: Protect Your Credit
Now that you’ve blocked the hacker from your accounts, it’s time to dispute any fraudulent charges on your compromised accounts. If necessary, have the accounts locked, closed or deleted.
Next, place a fraud alert on your credit reports. This serves as a red flag to potential lenders and creditors, making it more difficult for the scammer to open up additional lines of credit or to take out a loan in your name.
Consider a credit freeze as well. This blocks potential lenders from accessing your credit report, making it impossible for the hacker to open new credit accounts in your name.
Step 4: Alert The Authorities
You can alert the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about a possible or confirmed identity theft. You’ll also find a detailed recovery plan on the site to help you repair your credit and reclaim your identity.
Hacking is usually done remotely, but it’s still a good idea to let your local law enforcement agencies know about the breach. This way, they can be on the alert if the hacker decides to assume your identity and use your credit cards in stores near your hometown.
Step 5: Proceed With Caution
Once you’ve taken all necessary steps it’s important to keep a close eye on your accounts for the next month. Look out for any suspicious activity on all accounts, including charges you don’t recall making, large withdrawals of cash and even new loans being opened in your name. If you find any fraudulent activity, be sure to let the account holders know and to follow the steps suggested above.
Getting hacked is unfortunate, but taking immediate and decisive action can help mitigate the damage, as well as speed up the recovery process. If you’ve been hacked, the Genisys team is here to help you!
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