How to protect yourself after 1 billion Yahoo accounts hacked

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(FOX 8 file photo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio– The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is offering tips to consumers on how to protect their personal information after the Yahoo hack.

The information of more than 1 billion users was affected in the data breach, which Yahoo said it believed happened in August 2013. It included names, email addresses, phone numbers, date of birth, passwords, and some security questions and answers.

“If your personal information has been compromised, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll experience identity theft, but you should take steps to protect yourself,” Ohio Attorney General DeWine said in a news release on Thursday. “Update your passwords. Make them long and complex. Use a different password for each of your accounts. Watch for scams related to the breach. If you need help, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.”

DeWine’s office suggests taking the following precautions:

  • Change your passwords and your security questions and answers. In addition to changing your Yahoo account passwords, change passwords for other accounts too, if you used the same password for those accounts. Create a different password for each account. Similarly, change security questions and answers.
  • Use complex passwords. A password should be lengthy and contain multiple different characters, such as a variety of numbers, letters, and symbols. To help create such a password, consider taking a sentence you can remember and adding multiple different numbers and symbols throughout. Update your passwords regularly.
  • Consider using two-factor verification. Two-factor authentication requires a password and another step to verify your identity. For instance, some sites may require a password and then ask you to enter a unique code to access your account. This adds a second line of defense.
  • Monitor your bank accounts. Look for suspicious activity. If you find errors, immediately notify your bank or credit provider.
  • Check your credit report. Monitoring your credit report can help you identify signs of potential identity theft. You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com to access those reports. You can pull all three at once, or you can stagger pulling your reports throughout the year.
  • Beware of scams related to the breach. Con artists may pretend to have information about the breach or they may falsely claim to want to help you. Some calls or messages may be scams designed to steal your money or personal information. Don’t give out personal information to those who contact you unexpectedly (even if they say they want to help you) and be wary about clicking on links or downloading attachments in messages.

Here are a few signs of potential identity theft:

  • Unexpected mail about accounts you did not open.
  • Credit card charges you never made.
  • Unexpected collection calls.
  • Another person’s name showing up in your background check or credit report.
  • Credit reporting errors or a lower-than-expected credit score.