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Question

What steps should people take if they suspect they’ve been compromised in a data breach?

Answer

First, I would consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert is free and good for one year. You need to make one phone call to one of the three major credit reporting agencies. A fraud alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name. They will have to notify you first before opening up new credit. The reason I recommend this as a first step is that it's a fairly simple step to take if you are in the midst of finding out your information has been breached and the potential for fraud is high. After this, consider placing a freeze on your credit. Also known as a security freeze, this free tool lets you restrict access to your credit report, which in turn makes it more difficult for criminals to open new accounts in your name. That’s because most creditors need to see your credit report before they approve a new account. If they can’t see your report, they may not extend the credit.

 

The new credit law, which took effect in 2018, made it so anyone in the country can get a free credit freeze – including children and incapacitated adults (many of whom do not have credit files). On the credit freeze websites, for example, you’ll see options to either place the freeze for yourself or on behalf of another person. For security purposes, some people choose not to send in copies of birth certificates and Social Security cards. But each person looking to do that for the minors in their life will need to make the decision that is best for them.

 

 

For more information about both of these options, visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs

Comments

As part of the Equifax and Yahoo data breech they are offering free credit monitoring. Everyone should take advantage of that. I believe TurboTax, and Credit Karma offer free credit monitoring as well.

 

 

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