What happens to your personal info after a data breach?

Jul 30, 2023, 5:00 AM

photo of iphone on flat surface...

(Pexels File Photo)

(Pexels File Photo)

Your most sensitive data is online. Sure, you don’t just post your banking details and medical records just anywhere, but hackers still find them — then sell them to anyone willing to pay.

It’s not just tech geniuses getting away with this stuff, either. Sophisticated software is available for purchase or monthly subscription. Here’s how much criminals pay to target you.

Are you wondering how many times you’ve been exposed? This is the best website to check. Pro tip: Check all your email addresses.

Back in the day, news of a breach or hack was shocking and scary. Now, it happens so often that you might not think twice when you get that notification. That’s a mistake.

Join over 500,000 people who get free daily tech news to their in-box.

How often does this stuff happen?

Way more often than you’d think. In 2022, there were 1,802 reported data breaches, affecting over 422 million individuals — just under the record high in 2021.

Cybercriminals get their hands on a host of your data through hacks, leaks, physical theft, human error, phishing attacks, ransomware, and other means. That includes Social Security numbers, bank account and credit card details, health records, passwords, device info and lots more.

Companies and institutions are legally required to disclose data breaches, so if you’ve been involved, you’ll get some kind of communication informing you what was accessed (if that info is available at the time).

So, what should you do?

If you’re in the habit of ignoring data breach alerts, this list will seem like overkill — but trust me here. It’s worth taking steps to safeguard your data after you’ve been exposed. It can, and very well might, get worse if you don’t.

  • Call your bank and credit card providers. Freeze and replace all your cards.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit file. You only need to contact one of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. The FTC lists the real websites and phone numbers here.
  • Monitor your bank and credit card statements for any suspicious activity. It could take time for anything strange to show up, so stay vigilant on this one.
  • Change your account passwords. It’s a pain, but this is your first line of defense. Remember, once a password is exposed, it’s off-limits for any other accounts.
  • Consider an identity theft monitoring or protection service. In the case of a major breach, the exposed company will often offer this for free. Take advantage. These services do a lot of the hard work for you.

A little prevention goes a long way

Being smart about how you react is one thing, but it pays to be proactive, too.

  • Using strong, unique passwords: Your passwords should be a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters and should be different across your accounts.
  • Run a regular credit report: You can do this once a year for free at Look for any suspicious loans, lines of credit or anything else suspicious.
  • Use multi-factor authentication everywhere: Adding another step to the login process is annoying, but it’s worth it. Make this mandatory for any financial or medical accounts. Bonus points if you do this for every single account that allows it.
  • Stay up to date: Regular updates are your best protection against flaws and security vulnerabilities. Judging by the number of patches in the tech world this year alone, security pros and hackers are working equally hard. Don’t wait if you see a new update for your phone, tablet, computer, smart speaker or anything else.
  • Encrypting sensitive data: You’re making a mistake if you have medical records, financial docs or other info sitting on your desktop that could put you at risk. Today’s malware is sophisticated enough to steal all that if it sneaks onto your computer. Encrypting makes data unreadable to anyone who doesn’t have the password to unlock it.
  • Let cloud storage do the work: Not everyone is comfortable encrypting their own data. Fair enough. I highly recommend finding an encrypted cloud storage solution you can trust. My pick is IDrive, a sponsor of my national radio show.

Keep your tech-know going

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcast player.

Sound like a tech pro, even if you’re not! Award-winning popular host Kim Komando is your secret weapon. Listen on 425+ radio stations or get the podcast. And join over 400,000 people who get her free 5-minute daily email newsletter.

Kim Komando

As hospitals continue to face unprecedented threats, here's an article to help guide you on how to ...

Kim Komando

Hospitals facing unprecedented threats – You must secure your health records today

As hospitals continue to face unprecedented threats, here's an article to help guide you on how to properly secure your health records.

5 days ago

Image of laptop screen....

Kim Komando

Here are 15 websites you will find yourself using all the time

The web is evolving with the rise of AI like ChatGPT, making it easier to get information without visiting websites.

5 days ago

Hidden camera tricks that everyone must know....

Kim Komando

Creeps are hiding cameras in dressing rooms, bathrooms and worse

Peeping Toms and tech are a match made in you-know-where. They use everything from smartphones to hidden cameras to get their fix.

12 days ago

(Pexels photo)...

Kim Komando

Time-saving tricks using your keyboard

Award-winning host Kim Komando gives several tips for how to save time when you're on the computer and at the keyboard.

19 days ago

ChatGPT has changed my life — and yours, even if you don’t use it as much as I do. (Pexels File...

Kim Komando

AI expert: ChatGPT prompts you’ll wish you knew sooner

Embrace the power of ChatGPT to simplify complexities, make informed decisions and maximize efficiency in your daily life.

19 days ago

(Pexels File Photo)...

Kim Komando

Get a handle on your time: Google Calendar tips and tricks

Learn about the untapped potential of Google Calendar with these invaluable tips and tricks, from tech expert Kim Komando.

26 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

What happens to your personal info after a data breach?