Steps to Take to Prevent a Data Breach
By now I am sure you have all heard about the 143 million American consumers whose sensitive personal information was exposed in a data breach at Equifax- one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies.
To find out if your information has been exposed, Equifax has created a website where you are able to enter your last name and last 6 digits of your social security number. Though for those that do not feel comfortable entering more sensitive information into a system that has already been hacked, there are other steps to take to help protect yourself after a data breach.
Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for free — by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.
Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize.
If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
File your taxes early — as soon as you have the tax information you need, before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.
Visit Identitytheft.gov/databreach to learn more about protecting yourself after a data breach.