What to Do When There's a Data Breach

Yahoo is facing another wave of problems on the heels of admitting a major data breach affecting more than a half billion customers.

The first lawsuits have been filed in this case, several of them in California, and it could all impact Verizon's $4.8 billion acquisition of the company.

First, if you're a Yahoo customer, understand lawmakers are describing this as the largest data breach affecting American consumers, and there are questions about how long your personal information has been in the hands of hackers.

Some lawmakers are alleging that Yahoo knew about the data breach in 2014, but only acknowledged it for the first time publicly last week.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is being asked to investigate whether Yahoo met legally mandated disclosure requirements or if the company withheld the information in part because of its pending acquisition by Verizon.

Verizon says it learned of the breach two days before the rest of the world did. So for two years, the personal data of Yahoo customers may have been compromised.

If you're one of them, you may be asking what you can do about it and how you can protect your online accounts.

Cyber security experts recommend a few things to protect your data:

  1. Change your Yahoo password immediately.
  2. Also change passwords for any accounts where you used the same password, especially if you pay any bills online.
  3. As a precaution, make it a habit to change passwords every three to six months.
  4. Lastly, document any changes or problems with accounts as evidence for potential class-action lawsuits.

There are five lawsuits currently filed by consumers against Yahoo, including three in California. They could be consolidated as one case, or because of the number of people affected, class-action status could be granted.

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