The numbers are shocking. According to a recent study by CNN Money, nearly half of all adults in the United States have had their financial information compromised by hackers in the past year.
Yes, you read that right. Nearly half.
47 percent, to be exact.
From the earlier incidents with PF Changs, Target, Jimmy Johns, Home Depot and Chase, to the most recent victims, Dairy Queen and K-Mart, it seems like no matter where you shop, you and your data is at risk. The hackers just keep getting better and smarter, which means that you need to up your game, too.
1. Find out if you’ve already been hacked and contact the company for details
This will get you started, and will show you exactly how vulnerable you are. If hackers have critical data like PIN numbers, date of birth or social security number that’s a lot worse than having your Facebook account hijacked. Also, the companies will likely be able to offer you guidance about precisely the steps you should take to mitigate the damage.
2. Take advantage of identity protection services, if they’re offered
Like other hacked companies, Dairy Queen is offering victims of their latest security breach a year’s worth of free identity protection services. If you’ve been hacked, take advantage of these offers and consider paying for identity protection for yourself if you’re concerned your most sensitive data has been exposed.
3. Practice sound security
It’s no different from yoga or your kids, if you want something to be done well, baby you gotta work. Institute rules for yourself for regularly updating passwords. And make them tricky. You should also monitor your credit reports from all of the major credit bureaus. There are plenty of tools to help you from apps that remember all of your funky passwords, to services like LifeLock, which constantly monitor your identity to catch anything shady.
4. Consider using prepaid cards
Prepaid debit cards you can reload are a great way to keep your identity safe while still being easier than carrying cash. You can pick them up at any grocery store and do all of your shopping with plastic, but if the information is compromised, at least your bank accounts won’t be accessible to the hackers.
5. Go old school and use cash
I know it sounds like a foreign concept these days, but it may be time to consider making more purchases with cold, hard cash. By swiping your card at fewer retail locations, you’re automatically reducing your risk of being hacked.
If you’ve already fallen victim to a recent hack, check out this video on how to act: