Do you ever have the sneaking suspicion that your personal information has been hacked? It’s a reasonable assumption to make considering how often data breaches happen. Almost every day there’s a new story about another big company that didn’t take the appropriate means to protect their data.

Thankfully, you don’t have to wait until you stumble upon the official press release to see if you’ve been involved in the next breach. You can run your email through the Have I Been Pwned? (HIBP) website instead.

Check to See if You’ve Been Exposed

Have I Been Pwned? is a website that lets you check if your personal data has been compromised in a data breach. It gets its name from Internet slang for “owned.” In this context, it means you’ve been controlled or compromised, as in, you’ve been pwned by a data breach.

Web security consultant Troy Hunt designed it as a free and accessible way for non-technical users to see if their personal information has been exposed. He started it in 2013 when he noticed the same accounts would show up in his post-breach analyses, often using the same passwords.

Multiple exposures of emails and passwords increase the risk that a breach will result in a more severe case of fraud, which is why Hunt still keeps his site available, for free, today.

To see if you’ve been pwned by a recent hack, all you need to do is share your email address, and the site will compare it to multiple data breaches to see if yours comes up.

What if You Have Been Exposed?

Step number one: don’t panic. Exposure doesn’t necessarily mean an identity thief is currently posing as you on the Internet or taking out a payday loan in your name. It only means that your email has been involved in a breach.

That brings us to step number two. To ensure this breach doesn’t go any further, you need to take measures to lock down your personal information.

1. Change Your Password Right Away

Go through all the accounts using the affected email and change the passwords. Since overexposure weakens even a strong password, you’ll want to create a unique one for each account.

2. Check Your Financial Statements

Depending on the nature of the breach, you may skip this step. However, if HIBP reveals a breach has occurred with an account where you share financial information, you’ll want to check your credit report and bank statements. If you spot any suspicious activity, flag it right away with the proper authorities.

3. Be Stingy with Your Information

Prevention is the best medicine. To make sure this doesn’t happen again, you’ll want to pay attention to how you share your information. This is especially important when it comes to financial decisions, like borrowing money or shopping online.

Online installment loans require you to share a lot of financial details that you need to protect. If you need access to quick installment loans online, make sure you choose an installment loan lender with a robust security policy. You want to know how they intend to collect, share, and store your data safely.

You can put an online retailer through the same test as an online lender. Before you share credit card information and your address, run a background check to see that they’re legit. You also want to ensure their privacy policy protects customers’ data.

Bottom Line

You may have no way to prevent a data breach from happening, but you can control how you react to the news your info has been compromised. Check to see if you’ve been pwned and take the appropriate measures to lock up your data.

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