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How Should You Handle a Data Leak?

Recently, data breaches seem to be the fuss in major headlines. There was the Capital One breach a few weeks back, NASA getting hacked by a $25 computer, and scandals such as these seem to only keep showing up. You might consider yourself lucky if you weren't affected by any so far, but what if one day it happens? This is Hotspot VPN's guide to safely handling a data leak.

What Leaked?

The first and foremost piece of advice would be to identify what information leaked and where it ended up.

A good way to do so is to categorize it into the following:

  • login information and passwords

  • bank and payment information

  • identification information

Depending on what you found out leaked, try following our guide below.

Login Information and Passwords

If you've found out that your email, username, password, date of birth, address, or similar information, follow each and every one of these steps:

  1. Change your password immediately. If you're unsure of a strong enough password to set, try using a password generator such as the default ones provided by Google Chrome or Safari.

  2. Change passwords on other accounts if you've used the same old password for those as well.

  3. Set up 2-factor-authentication. This feature will add an extra layer of security to your accounts so that accounts will need a second password, pin, mobile device, etc. to verify that it's truly you.

Bank and Payment Information

If you've been noticing suspicious reports in your bank statement or email, it's always a smart move to double check that no one is accessing your cards without your permission. If you have enough reasonable suspicion, follow these steps:

  1. Contact your bank and freeze your card. You should be able to easily close your account and ask the bank to issue you a new card as soon as they identify that it's you.

  2. Contact the credit bureau and set up a fraud alert. They will notify you if someone tries to use your card to open new accounts or take out loans.

  3. Get a credit report to see if any false accounts or credit cards have already been opened or taken in your name.

Identification Information

If you recognize that someone has taken your identification information (Social Security Number, Passport, Driver's License, etc.) and you have reasonable suspicion that they are abusing it, follow these steps:

  1. Issue a fraud alert. You can do so at the National Credit Reporting Agency (CRA) or a similar organization depending on your country of residence.

  2. Prove your identity before anyone else does. You can submit an affidavit and provide proof that you are who you say you are. Go to The Federal Trade Commission’s ID Theft Affidavit or your local equivalent of such authority.

  3. Order credit reports as they may also indicate if someone has tried to use your identity for any illegal activity.

  4. Review your Social Security statement and look for any suspicious charges.

  5. File your taxes on time or earlier than usual before someone else does for you!

For a Future's Notice

Learn to recognize phishing and similar social engineering attacks. Hackers or scammers might not have enough information to break into your accounts, but they can use your date of birth or your address to scam you or services you use. They might try to use this data to convince you that they are from a legitimate company and to get other sensitive information out of you. Don’t fall into their trap!


Interested in improving your online security even further? Consider getting a Virtual Private Network! Subscribe and download Hotspot VPN today at low costs for unlimited browsing and ultra-fast streaming.

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