Snapchat breachSnapchat may not be kicking off the new year on the right foot considering phone numbers and usernames of 4.6 million users were hacked and published online on Tuesday, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. After acquiring the information from the photo messaging application, the hackers then published it to a database and posted it on the social news website Reddit as well as on another website, called SnapchatDB.info, designated for the leaked information. The website has since been removed.

Are Snapchat users’ identities in jeopardy of theft?

Luckily, the hackers were not able to gather personal information that can be used in identity theft — such as users’ date of birth, banking information, social security number, etc. — so users’ identities aren’t completely in jeopardy of theft. That being said, there are still some risks that Snapchats users may be vulnerable to, as a result of the breach.

Since the Snapchat breach revealed contact information for users, there is a chance that they will receive spam messages via the app or even through text messages, considering phone numbers were also revealed. On top of that, Snapchat users may receive phone calls from unknown callers posing as their bank, school or even doctor asking for personal information in the attempts to gather more information and steal their identity.

How can Snapchat users protect themselves?

There are some steps that users should take to make sure their information remains safe or spam-free.

1. Change your username: This may seem like a hassle, but it’s one of the best things you can to do protect yourselves from receiving spam messages through Snapchat. It’s best to make the new username completely different from your current username because that will prevent hackers from guessing the new username.

2. Monitor messages carefully: Changing your username on Snapchat will prevent you from receiving spam messages through the app, however, since your phone numbers will revealed, you’re still vulnerable to spam messages through text message. Make sure that you do not click on any links that are sent to you through text, and block the phone number if it seems phony or you receive a spam message from it.

3. Don’t provide personal information to unknown callers: Be very cautious when you receive a call from someone asking for your personal information because there is a chance that they could be identity thieves. The best way to handle this situation is to not reveal any information and ask the person if you can call them back. Next, Google the general phone number for the bank, school or office that the person claimed to work for, and call the number. Explain to the institution that you received a call from someone who claimed to work for it and you wanted to verify the caller before providing any personal information. They should be able to confirm the caller and assist you. If they cannot confirm the caller, then you should call your cell phone provider and find out how to get the spam phone number blocked.

The most important thing for Snapchat users should do following the breach is simply be aware. If you receive a text message or phone call that seems like phishing, then contact your phone service provider and find out how you can report the spam phone number as well as block it from contacting you.

Find more tips on how to protect your identity by visiting our identity theft protection blog.