Security breaches and data theft are all running rampant in today’s digital age. Take for example the data breach at Target, this one data breach alone put over 70 million customers at risk for identity theft. Then there is Michaels, the nation’s largest arts and crafts chain which has more than 2.6 million debit and credit card numbers exposed in a massive date breach. Even retail transactions are targeted by data thieves such was the case with Sally Beauty where over 260,000 debit and credit cards were not only stolen but sold on underground 3rd party hacker sites. This list goes on and on for companies whose poor security led to massive data breaches in 2016 and 2016. Most of these date breaches of course lead to identity theft, which is the number one rising crime worldwide as criminals get smarter and take on less risky heists in today’s digital age.

Since data theft is so rampant today there are some precautions you should take immediately if you suspect you have been the victim of a security or data breach. If you think you may be the victim of potential identity theft you should take action right away, every day and every hour you delay could cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in actual damages as well as harming your credit score. Here are the steps you should take if you have been effected by any data breach:

Call your bank and credit card companies:
If you have done business with a company that has been hit by a data breach you must first think hard on what credit or debit cards have been used with this business. It does not matter if it was in a physical brick and motor location or online. It is your responsibility to contact the banks or credit cards that are in your name that may have been involved with any data breach. Doing this right away will put you into a better position to have any fraudulent charges reversed on your behalf by the bank or credit card company. You should also make yourself familiar with your credit card or banks unauthorized activity policy and your rights as a cardholder.

Notify Your bank:
Even if it was only credit cards that were effected, you should talk to any banks that you do business with. It is an easy matter for identity theft criminals to take the information gained from credit card data breaches and use that to gain access to your bank account. Your bank once they know you have been the victim of identity theft can monitor your accounts more closely.

Delete Account Information On Websites:

If you have used your credit or debit card on any commerce websites you will want to remove your billing information from these websites right away. This includes websites such as Paypal, Amazon, and any online stores that you do business with and even websites such as Netflix. Any website in which the effected credit or debit card numbers are stored needs to be addressed. Ensure that any purchases on these websites need to be manually entered versus using stored information.

Contact the credit bureaus:

If you have been the victim of a data breach, identity theft or a compromised account you should notify the credit bureaus right away. Any of these three things can lead to issues with your credit score. You should contact all three credit reporting companies, namely Equifax, Experian or TransUnion so that they can notate an alert on your credit reports. Doing this early on can actually aid investigators in tracking down any guilty parties.

Credit monitoring services:

While no credit monitoring service can prevent all criminal activities on your accounts or fraud committed under your identity, these services can help greatly as they monitor your credit in real time. One great service which you may have already seen ads for on television is Lifelock. These services will notify you right away if they see any suspicious or fraudulent activity.