It’s crucial to act swiftly to secure your bank and credit card accounts and to take additional precautions to ward off credit fraud if your personal information is compromised in a data breach.
1. Be Vigilant
Your personal information may have been compromised in a data breach, and the affected business will probably tell you. They are required by law to do so if they conduct business in any of the 50 states. If you get a breach notice, keep all the paperwork and pay attention to the advice they give.
Be aware that not all data breaches are discovered right away, so by the time you get a notice, your information can already have been accessible to thieves for some time. Keep any odd letters or emails, such as IRS tax notices, bills, or statements from unknown lenders, safe.
2. Protect Your Accounts.
Update your PINs and passwords for your bank and credit card accounts, starting with any accounts mentioned in the breach letter. Naturally, accounts directly affected by a breach are most in danger, but any access to your personal data increases the possibility that your other accounts could also be compromised.
Let’s hope that by this point, you’ve learned your lesson and stopped using the same account passwords. If not, a thief who has the login credentials for one account may be able to use them to access other accounts as well. Consider using a free password manager to improve your password game while you’re updating the passwords on your accounts. These simple programs create passwords for you that are incredibly safe and unique. You only need to memorize one master password.
If you haven’t already, think about turning on two-factor authentication for your accounts while you update your passwords. To validate your identity, you must get a confirmation code by text message or email prior to each login. Although it only involves one extra step, it significantly increases the difficulty for password thieves to access the system.
3. Start a Fraud Alert
A fraud alert informs any lender handling a credit application in your name that you might have been the victim of fraud or identity theft and asks them to confirm this before approving the application.
The fraud alert is automatically added to your credit reports at all three bureaus when you add one to your Experian credit report (or to your report at either of the other two national credit bureaus, TransUnion or Equifax).
Your credit record will contain a fraud alert for a full year. When the fraud alert expires, you can renew it. If your worst fears come true and you discover that you have been the victim of fraud, you may request an extended fraud alert that lasts for seven years before needing to be renewed.
4. Keep an eye on your credit reports and financial accounts
Keep track of your bank and financial accounts, and set up any alerts that can be configured to send you notifications when there is action. Your ability to identify such scams early and take swift action to report or investigate them depends on your ability to stay alert to strange or unexpected behavior on your account.
You can spot any suspicious behavior related to identity theft and credit fraud by checking your credit reports, such as the opening of accounts for loans or credit cards that you don’t recognize or the inclusion of strange addresses to your personal data. You may view your credit reports from all three credit agencies for free at AnnualCreditReport.com and receive an updated Experian credit report every 30 days with a free Experian account.
Experian’s free credit monitoring automates the process of reviewing your Experian report by notifying you through email or text whenever there is new activity.
5. Lock or Freeze Your Credit File
You might think about submitting a free security freeze, which restricts access to your credit report at a particular credit agency, even though it might be more bothersome than a fraud alert. You can separately freeze your credit reports from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian by clicking on the appropriate links.
Your credit report is better protected from scammers and other crooks who might apply for credit in your name by freezing your credit at all three bureaus. It will, however, also stop lenders from accessing your credit for valid credit applications. You must first “thaw,” or unfreeze, your credit reports if you want to permit a lender to access a frozen credit report (such as when applying for a credit card or loan).
Another defense against fake credit applications being made in your name is to lock your credit file. With CreditLock, a feature of Experian CreditWorksSM Premium, you may lock and unlock your Experian credit file. Other credit bureaus offer comparable services.
One drawback of the convenience of digital transactions and e-commerce is the exposure of your personal information in a data breach. It’s a good idea to be ready in case it occurs to you and to take prompt action to reduce any potential harm if it does.
Take a deep breath, try not to worry, and then carry out these actions if you’ve been the target of a breach. If you have proof that your data has been stolen or used improperly, take quick action and notify the relevant authorities.
Information about Data Breach
A Data Breach Is What?
There are data breaches. Although you might not be able to avoid having your information implicated in one, being prepared to respond can help limit the harm that results.
Methods for Unfreezing Credit
To permanently restrict most access to your credit reports, request a credit freeze from each of the three national credit bureaus online or by mail.
Setting Up a Fraud Alert
It is quick and simple to add a fraud alert to your credit report, informing creditors that they must verify your identification before processing loan or credit applications.
What Should I Do If My Information Has Been Stolen?
After your identity is taken, you may safeguard your credit. Start with a fraud alert and then, if necessary, upgrade to a security freeze.