What To Do When Your Personal Information Is Breached

penetration_test_436x270We recently learned that credit report service Experian had a breach of T-Mobile customer information.  This is just another addition to the pile of Personally Identifying Information (PII) that has been exfiltrated from sundry organizations including the Office of Personnel Management, various BlueCross BlueShield organizations, and Harvard University.

So what to do when this happens to you?  When you are notified by the offending organization, you will probably be offered credit monitoring at no cost to you.  This will run for a year, possibly two.  But cybersecurity expert and FBI consultant Frank Abagnale (subject of the movie Catch Me If You Can) recommends monitoring your credit for at least three years, because sometimes this stolen information is “aged” or held off the personal information market for a while to wait for the credit monitoring and other vigilance to expire.  You should insist on a longer term if you can negotiate it, and consider paying the cost yourself if you have to.

The website Privacy Rights has a great article on steps you can take to protect yourself when you data is lost.  They cover what to do in the event of the four main types of data exposure and these are:

  • Credit card information.
  • Financial account access.
  • Driver’s License or government ID theft
  • Social Security number theft.

There are specific guidelines for each type, and I recommend that you read their article if you need to.  They also recommend:

  • Notify the credit bureaus
  • Set up a fraud alert
  • Order your credit reports and look them over completely
  • Continue to monitor your credit report for changes
  • Order a credit freeze

You can contact the credit bureaus at the numbers and websites that follow:



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About the Author:

I am a cybersecurity and IT instructor, cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. I am an owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, I also conduct security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. I also teach Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. I work as an information technology and cybersecurity instructor for several training and certification organizations. I have worked in corporate, military, government, and workforce development training environments I am a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at http://wyzguyscybersecurity.com

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