JP Morgan’s recent disclosure that their data breach this summer compromised more than 76 million personal and small business accounts has sent customers and bankers alike scrambling to ensure that their data, identities, and financial well-being aren’t at risk. Although the banking giant has assured customers that they won’t be responsible for fraudulent charges and committed to spending $250 million toward (belatedly) enhancing their cyber security measures, a hack attack of this magnitude poses an even greater threat than the recent breaches which have affected the likes of Target, Home Depot, and Michael’s, due to the greater amount of data stored by banks versus that stored by retailers.
Although it’s impossible to be 100% protected against what’s becoming an all-too-familiar threat, you can take steps to be better prepared for these breaches by following the three M’s:
Monitor your accounts – Keep an eye on what’s coming out of your bank and credit accounts. With direct deposit and online bill pay, many people have stopped paying as close attention to their balances – even though it’s become easier to monitor electronically and more hazardous not to do so.
Minimize your risk of exposure – Change your passwords and login access regularly, and never use the same password for every account you have. With more and more of our personal, professional, and financial lives being spent and shared online, having one password that can access all of it poses a greater risk than ever – especially if it’s remained the same for a long period of time.
Manage the damage – If you do find yourself the victim of one of these cyberbreaches, act quickly. Your best bet is to figure out a plan ahead of time. Know who to contact at your bank and credit card company to alert them to your situation (they should have 24-hour hotlines for this), and keep a list or spreadsheet of which other accounts are tied to the one that has been compromised. Be sure to check your credit rating regularly afterwards to make sure that a short-term hassle doesn’t turn into a long-term liability.