When hackers obtain private information, they typically do one of two things: use it for themselves or sell it to other criminals on the dark web. The past year saw major data breaches, including the exposure of 143 million Social Security numbers during the recent Equifax cyber attack. Other high-profile incidents have included exposure of credit card numbers and other information at companies like Target, Chipotle, Yahoo, and Blue Cross Blue Shield/Anthem. Depending on the nature of the information stolen, damage could be limited to some fraudulent credit card charges or expanded to include the opening of new accounts and liabilities in your name. You can protect yourself by taking the following steps:
- Purchase Identity Theft Insurance
If your identity is stolen, clearing your name could take enormous resources. You may need to take time off work, hire legal assistance, or even travel to restore your credit and rid yourself of fraudulent liabilities. Identity theft insurance can help you pay for these excess costs. You may already have identity theft insurance added to your homeowners, renters, or condo insurance. If not, an independent agent here at Vanyo Insurance Group can help you obtain this important coverage either as a stand-alone policy or an endorsement to your existing coverage.
- Enroll in Credit Monitoring
Enroll in a third-party credit monitoring service that will keep an eye on your credit reports and notify you of any activity. You will get updates as new accounts are opened or when someone applies for credit in your name. Some credit monitoring services even tell you when there are significant changes in your account balances.
- Watch Your Financial Statements
It’s easy to get in the habit of paying your credit card bills each month without reviewing your account charges, but that could be a costly mistake. Always review each of your credit card and bank statements for signs of suspicious activity.
- Report Suspicious Activity
If you notice unauthorized charges on any of your financial statements, notify your card issuer right away. You may not be liable for fraudulent charges on your credit card if you report them in a timely manner.
- Freeze Your Credit
If you suspect someone may have access to your Social Security number, it may be time to put a ‘freeze’ on your credit through each of the three major credit bureaus. While this will not prevent criminals from making charges on your existing accounts, it can help prevent them from opening new ones when they apply for credit in your name.
Protect Your Business
On the business side of the equation, a major data breach can spell financial disaster for a business of any size. If you own a business that stores sensitive information about your customers, the cost to recover could be crippling due to the extensive liability. To better protect your business and help assure its continuity after a cyber attack, consider purchasing commercial insurance that will protect your company against a data breach. This type of coverage can help pay for:
- Customer/victim notification of the attack
- Credit monitoring for victims
- Virus removal
- Business interruption while you remove viruses and update your security
- Legal expenses
- Punitive damage and fines
If you think you may need commercial insurance against cyber-crime, give us a call here at Vanyo Insurance Group. We can answer any questions you may have about this important coverage and also explain common underwriting requirements, which may include:
- Development of a contingency plan
- Professional cyber-security training for employees
- Voluntary audits and testing
- Frequent software updates
- And more
To better protect yourself and your business against the next big data breach, contact our office today to request your free quote. We look forward to serving you soon.