How to Deal With Bank Account Data Breaches

Hacker using a laptop

seksan Mongkhonkhamsao/Moment/Getty Images

Only 40 years ago banking was still mostly done on paper ledgers and your records had to be physically stolen to be in jeopardy.

Now banking is done mostly digitally, and good hackers can steal hundreds of thousands (and sometimes millions) of records at once. And this can happen not only with banks but with other financial institutions as well.

This is a problem because even if a data breach doesn’t involve a loss of money, it can involve a great deal of time and resources to issue new cards, track down the information that got out into the wild, and monitor for any further issues.

And there have been some major bank and financial breaches since cybersecurity became an issue. This is true even with increased cybersecurity in banking.

5 of the Worst Financial Institution Data Breaches


Because they are a credit reporting agency, Equifax stores personal information on everyone who has ever taken out a loan of any kind. This includes mortgages, loans, credit cards and more.

In 2017, Equifax experienced a breach of 143 million U.S. accounts and 400,000 British accounts. The hackers got away with identifying information such as names, birthdates, telephone numbers, social security numbers, and email addresses. The hackers also stole credit card numbers of over 209,000 people.

Heartland Payment Systems

This payment processor is responsible for the processing of over 11 million transactions a day and serves over 275,000 different business locations in the United States.

In 2008, over 130 million people who had payments processed by Heartland had their data hacked. This hack cost the company over $250 million to fix – including better cybersecurity and settling with Visa and American Express.

TRW Information Systems

Data hacking is nothing new. If thieves can exploit data, they will. In 1984, 90 million people had their credit histories posted to an electronic bulletin board where others could access it.

It’s one of the first cases of mass data hacking in a financial institution.

JPMorgan Chase

This behemoth of a bank reported a massive data breach of over 76 million households and 7 million small businesses in 2014. This was the first major, successful attack on a large U.S. based bank, and shattered the perceptions of banks being safe from data breaches.

It also put all banks on high alert that more cybersecurity in banking was going to be necessary.

Cardsystems Solutions

This payment processor was hacked in 2005, putting 40 million credit card numbers at risk. At the time the company had around 100,000 small businesses in its network and was processing a huge $15 billion a day in credit card transactions.

Banks and other financial institutions are continually working to make sure that they have cutting edge cybersecurity in banking, and new technologies like biometrics and double authentication processes are helping to increase security. But hacks can and still to happen.

3 Things You Should Do If Your Account Data Is Breached

  1. Figure Out What Is Stolen: The first step is to figure out what is stolen. In any hack, there are different pieces of information that can be taken. The most dangerous in the United States is a person’s social security number. A social security number and a full name allow almost anyone to pose as you and buy things or commit fraud in your name. If your social security number has been stolen make sure you report it to law enforcement.
  2. Reset Your Passwords: Next, you’ll want to reset your passwords with new strong passwords. If any account has been breached, then you will want to create new passwords for every account you have had an issue with. If you use the same password for multiple accounts, then you need to change each one of them – and make them different.
  1. Contact the Credit Reporting Bureaus: Finally, it’s essential to contact the bureaus that do credit reporting. In the United States, you can get any of the major credit bureaus (or all of them) to put fraud alerts on your name, and this doesn’t cost a dime.

Then, if someone tries to steal your financial identity, you’ll know right away. In the United States you can contact the credit bureaus at the following numbers:

  • Equifax 1-888-766-0008
  • Experian 1-888-397-3742
  • Innovis 1-800-540-2505
  • TransUnion 1-800-680-7289

The most important takeaway with data breaches is that you can’t assume your bank or financial institution is going to be pro-active about protecting you. It’s important that you take the initiative to protect yourself. You can also take a pro-active approach by signing up for a credit monitoring service.

Article Table of Contents Skip to section