Here’s what to do if a data breach exposes your information

Password managers, security keys, credit freezes can help secure your data

Sometimes companies notify people if they are the victim of a data breach. But, consumers can take proactive steps, such as looking online to see what information was compromised.
Sometimes companies notify people if they are the victim of a data breach. But, consumers can take proactive steps, such as looking online to see what information was compromised.

SAN ANTONIO – McDonald’s is the latest big company hit by a data breach, exposing customers’ personal information in Asia. Cyber-intrusion into companies is an increasingly common occurrence as 150 million people had their information exposed just last year.

Sometimes companies notify people if they are the victim of a data breach. But, consumers can take proactive steps, such as looking online to see what information was compromised. The website https://haveibeenpwned.com can reveal whether an email, phone number or password has been exposed.

“If your password was compromised, change it everywhere you used it,” said Consumer Reports’ Bree Fowler.

While using the same password for various accounts is convenient, it’s not advised. To help you remember your passwords, Fowler says to use a password manager such as ONE Password. It creates and stores complex, unique passwords for each account.

Cybercriminals use personal information to try to log into your accounts. At the very least, Fowler says use multi-factor authentication, which requires a second form of identification to log in.

“Often, it’s a code sent to your phone,” Fowler said. “But we recommend using a form that’s more secure than that.”

The Google Authentication App or hardware such as the Yubikey are two examples.

If your Social Security number or financial information were part of a data breach, security experts advise freezing your credit. You can do that for free by logging on to the three major credit bureaus. Keep in mind that you will have to “thaw” your credit report if you apply for a car loan, mortgage, credit card or any action that requires a check into your credit history.


About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.