How to Protect Yourself Against a Data Breach

May 29, 2014

This week, Ebay was fortunate enough to add itself to the famed list of public corporations with a customer information security breach. Take it as a compliment, Ebay, it means you’re popular! Everyone wants a piece of you.

Unfortunately, that means everybody wants a piece of you as consumers, too. On a site like Ebay, hackers can gain access to sensitive information such as your physical address, credit card information and PayPal accounts. But before you run away from the online shopping world in fear, check out these tips to keep your information secure in the case of another data breach.

Check your credit and debit card statements each month line-by-line. There really is no substitute for a thorough job. This way, even a small charge won’t slip through the cracks, and fraudulent activity won’t persist

Take any suspicious activity to your financial provider. The safest method to be sure it will not continue is to have them cancel and reissue the card in question. Though you may spot an issue once and have it revoked, more charges may appear if fraudsters hold your card information.

Look into a bill-monitoring service, such as BillGuard, which takes advantage of crowdsourcing to flag questionable charges. BillGuard has detected over $60 million in fraud since its conception in 2010.

Change your passwords. This may seem the most obvious way to secure yourself, but many people forget to do it. Ebay still follows the no-less-than-eight-characters, use-capitals-or-numerals system, but whenever possible, choose a passphrase instead. Passphrases are easier to remember and harder for computers to guess. Some of the best passphrases are things you want to remember: “Love easily.” “Read often.” “You are beautiful.”

Beware of strange emails, phone calls or physical mail. Never share your account information without confirmation of their identity. Asking questions such as the last 4 digits of your social security number may seem unwise, but those with rightful access to your information will understand your need to confirm.

Don’t allow online retailers to store your information. It may take more time for you check out as a guest each time, but a few minutes entering your information manually can save you years of headache from a demolished credit score.

Remember to keep your eyes on your information in the coming weeks and months if you may have been affected. Sometimes the data isn’t used until the media is quiets and consumers go back to their daily lives. Stay safe.