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5 Ways to Protect Your Personal Information from Data Breaches

Data breaches are one of the most common ways that consumers fall victim to identity theft. Therefore, you want to do everything you can to protect your personal information from identity thieves. Unfortunately, consumers can’t always protect their information when it’s held by companies. That means when data breaches strike a large company, thousands (and potentially millions) of consumers are at risk of identity theft. Luckily, there are steps people can take to protect their personal information.

Only share personal information when it’s necessary (and required to do business with a company). Many stores will ask for your phone and email at checkout. If you don’t want this information sold to telemarketers, decline to give it out. Also, avoid giving out your address and birthday as well. Never give out your Social Security number to anyone. Unfortunately, when you open a new bank account or credit card, the financial institution will ask for a lot of personal information. However, you can always ask the company how they will protect your data. If you are uncomfortable with their answer, find another company.

Hackers often break passwords and gain access to personal information. Therefore, you should set up two-step process to access your online accounts. This practice is known as two-step authentication. Usually, you will enter your username and password in the first step – and then receive a text or email with a special code to enter in the second step.

Financial companies often sell your personal information to other financial firms that want to market their products and services to you. Unfortunately, the more your personal information is floating around with other companies, the greater the chance you could face identity theft. Therefore, you should contact all of your credit card and banking institutions to let them know that you don’t want your information sold to other companies. Furthermore, you have the legal right to opt out of receiving credit offers. You can find out more about opting out of credit offers by visiting the Federal Trade Commission website.

Data breaches don’t exclusively target companies. Hackers and data thieves often target home computers – looking to steal banking and credit card information from users. You must protect the devices you use online with comprehensive security software. You need a firewall to keep hackers from gaining access to your computers. You also need antivirus and malware protection software to keep your devices from getting infected. Remember to keep your security software up-to-date and regularly scan your devices.

Finally, there is no way to prevent data breaches (even with the very best data security measures). Unfortunately, that means your data is always at risk of falling into the hands of identity thieves. Therefore, the best way to combat the threat of data breaches is to add identity theft protection and account monitoring services. You can search online for several firms that offer those services.

In short, don’t fall victim to identity theft because of a data breach. Protect your information by only sharing it when it’s truly required. If you are unsure about why a business wants to know something, ask them why they need the information. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing information with a company, let them know. Create stronger online account security by using two-step authentication. That way even if hackers steal your password, they won’t gain access to your account. Limit the number of companies that can access your personal information by opting out of credit offers. Make sure that all of your online devices have the latest internet security software. If you want the most protection from data breaches, add identity theft and account monitoring services.