5 Steps to Take After Being Hacked
If you've been hacked, finding out someone has cracked open your accounts and helped themselves to your information can be alarming! But there are ways to reduce 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.
Your first actions should be to 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 hacked.
Step 2: Change your passwords
Once you know which accounts and devices have been hacked, change the passwords and PINs on these accounts.
For an added measure of protection, it’s a good idea to change the passwords on all your accounts that may hold sensitive information. Remember to choose strong, unique passwords or passphrases for every account. Do not use a piece of personal information that can easily be scraped off the internet, such as your date of birth or home address.
You also may want to use a password service like LastPass or StickyPassword to make managing your passwords easier. 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 for damage control.
First, dispute any fraudulent charges on your compromised account(s). If necessary, have the account(s) locked, or even shut and/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 additional lines of credit or to take out a loan in your name.
Step 4: Alert the authorities
You can alert the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about a possible or confirmed identity theft at IdentityTheft.gov. 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 in your area.
Also, if you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to let your bank or credit union know what’s happened! Whether it’s a credit card that’s been stolen or a checking account that’s been breached, your financial institutions will do all they can to help protect your accounts.
Step 5: Proceed with caution
Once you’ve taken all necessary steps toward damage control and mitigation, you can start thinking about the future.
It’s important to keep a close eye on your accounts for the next month or so. 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 notify your bank or credit union and follow the steps suggested above.
If the hacker went all out and stole your identity, it’s best to follow the recovery plan outlined by the FTC . This plan may include replacing your Social Security number, driver’s license and more.
If your accounts look to be safe, consider opening new lines of credit to jump-start the recovery of your credit health. Also, enroll in identity theft monitoring services to protect yourself from future attacks.
Members of Arizona Federal have access to free credit monitoring and identity theft resolution services, included as a benefit of their credit union membership.
Getting hacked is never fun but taking immediate and decisive action can help reduce the severity of your damages, as well as speed up the recovery process.
Your Turn: How have you dealt with your accounts being hacked? Tell us about it in the comments.