Hackers have struck again. This time, a Russian hacking ring has allegedly stolen more than a billion online user names and passwords, including more than 500 million email addresses. They are believed to be selling those data
to third parties on the black market, who use the information to spam Internet users.
It's unclear which websites the Russian hackers hit, but with so much stolen data, there's a chance you have been affected. On Wednesday, a day after news about the breach broke, several security experts issued tips on how consumers can protect their personal data.
"As more of our personal data is being exchanged and stored online, the risks posed to consumers by major security breaches has become all the more critical," New York Atty. Gen. Eric T. Schneiderman said. "As law enforcement pursues those who are responsible for these breaches, it is important that consumers remain vigilant. Taking a few key precautions can help keep you a step ahead of cybercriminals."
IF YOU THINK YOU ARE A VICTIM OF THIS ATTACK OR ANY OTHER SECURITY BREACH:
Change Your Passwords
The theft of so many logins and passwords is dangerous because people often use the same sign-on information across many websites. Go to your most important online accounts (your email, bank, credit card, etc.) and update them with strong passwords that consist of lower- and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols. Also use different passwords for different accounts.
Monitor Your Debit and Credit Card Activity
Make sure all the purchases listed are ones you made. If they aren't, you might be a victim of identity theft.
IF YOU SUSPECT YOU ARE A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT:
Create an Identity Theft Report
You can head to the Federal Trade Commission's website to create an Identity Theft Affidavit. Use that affidavit to file a police report and create an Identity Theft Report, which will help you deal with credit reporting companies, debt collectors and any fraudulent accounts that the identity thief opened in your name.
Report to Any of the Three Credit Reporting Firms
Tell Equifax, Transunion or Experian that you may have been a victim of identity theft. Make sure the credit reporting firm has your current contact information so it can get in touch with you.
Ask the Credit Reporting Firms To Put a Fraud Alert on Your Credit File
A fraud alert is a signal to credit grantors that you may have been a victim of suspicious activity, so they know to take extra steps to verify the legitimacy of a request for new credit, extension of credit on an existing account, or issuance of an additional card on an existing account. Contacting any one of the three credit reporting firms is enough to file a credit alert with all of them. An initial credit alert must be renewed every 90 days. This will still allow you to use your credit card. (continued...)
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