What should yo do if you’re a victim of Sony’s recent security breaches — or of similar data leaks at other security-challenged-companies? Our clever cousins at Consumer Reports have come up with a set of tips to help you weather the post-hack storm. Top of the list: Accept free credit-monitoring services that the company offers to its customers, but don’t count on them to catch everything.
Among the tips offered by Consumer Reports:
1. Accept offers of free credit monitoring services. Don’t consider them foolproof, however. And put a note on your calendar to remind you when the free monitoring period ends, so that you aren’t automatically charged for continuing such services, which can cost more than $200 a year.
2. Monitor credit and debit card accounts online at least once a week to spot and report any unauthorized credit or debit transactions as quickly as possible.
3. Put a security freeze on your files at the three credit reporting agencies if there is a chance that a data breach includes your Social Security number.
4. Heighten your guard against phishing scams, which are likely to increase in the wake of April’s mega breach at Epsilon, an online marketing firm that sends about 40 billion emails annually to customers of major U.S. banks, hotels and other companies such as Krogers, L.L. Bean, Verizon and Walgreens.
5. Change user names and passwords on any accounts you know have been breached.
Consumer Reports also has tips about creating strong passwords, which you should read right now if you’re using “123456,” “password” or the name of Paris Hilton’s dog as your current password.
Five things to do when a company leaks your personal info [Consumer Reports]
A friendly reminder: Make your password less hacker-friendly [Consumer Reports]