What to do if your data has been breached and how to stop it happening again

We all know the feeling – you’re reading the news and you see that a company you’ve used in the past has just had a major data breach. What do you do?

Most of us are concerned but feel largely powerless to take action. The data is already gone, you’re not sure whether anything particularly sensitive has been lost or if, let alone how you should take action.

With life moving more and more online, this is a growing problem. This year alone, Easyjet, H&M, Marriott Hotels, Virgin Media and even Zoom have had major data breaches – and they’re only the ones that we’ve heard about.

With each breach, often hundreds of thousands or even millions of people are impacted in some way: the Network Rail Wifi data breach this year affected 146 million people.

What might be lost in a data breach?

While the type of data that’s lost varies, it can be very sensitive. If you’ve been the victim of a data breach, the types of personal information that could easily have been compromised include:

  • Names, address and contact details
  • Bank and insurance details
  • IP address & Cookie identifiers
  • Marital status and number of children
  • Political opinions and affiliations

This personal data could be used to financially harm you, or as a tool for identity theft.

What can I do if my data has been breached?

If your data has been breached, we’re sorry that this has happened to you – but there are things that you can do!

Firstly, if you know that the company in question may have your card details, cancel the relevant card straight away. If you don’t know what the company had stored about you, you can send them a ‘subject access request’ (SAR) through Rightly for free. A SAR is a written request asking to see all of the data a company has stored about you – it’s your legal right to ask any company and they have to reply within 30 days. Once you have your reply, you can see the scale of the problem and act accordingly.

You can also send the breached company a deletion request straight after, which demands that they remove all of the personal data they have stored about you from their records.

How can I protect myself from data breaches going forward?

If you’re concerned about a company, you can delete all of your data from their records for free here. Simply search and send a request for free.

You can also delete your data from all of the companies that had the biggest data breaches in 2020 in one go here to make sure your information isn’t compromised if it happens again.

Lastly, remember to stay safe online as best you can and keep up to date with the latest in data here!

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