Has Your Company Experienced a Data Breach?

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To learn more about how we can help your clients mitigate the potential negative impact of a data breach call:
1 (866) 751-1323.

Frequently Asked Questions

» What is a data breach?

» How do data breaches happen?

» How does Experian protect the information collected?

» What is a security freeze?

» What is an initial security alert (90 day fraud alert)?

» Why would I place an initial security alert message?

» What is a dispute?

» How do I get my free annual credit report from the Experian® bureau, Equifax® and TransUnion®?

» What is Identity Theft?

» Are the Fraud Resolution Agents employees of Experian?

» What can Experian Fraud Resolution Agents do to help me?

» How do I know if I am a victim of identity theft? What are the red flags?

» How can I respond to credit fraud or identity theft?

» How can I minimize my risk of becoming an identity theft victim?

 

What is a data breach?

A data breach is an event that occurs when secure data is inadvertently released to, or accessed by, unauthorized individuals. Data breach incidents can include the loss or theft of data such as digital media, computer tapes, hard drives, and computers. Other instances include situations where data is compromised due to security measures being breached or the unapproved posting or sharing of sensitive data via email or to public Internet sites. Data breaches pose serious safety and security risks for organizations as well as for the individuals who could be affected by the data loss. Data breaches can be accidental but are often the result of theft with the intent of fraud.
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How do data breaches happen?

Data breaches happen primarily due to lost or stolen laptops or computers and to system failures. System failures qualify as security measures of software applications that malfunction, credit card processing systems whose security systems fail or are breached, social engineering attacks and unapproved access to networks and other IT-related glitches where security measures are compromised. In some cases, they are a result of direct criminal activity which targets an organization’s sensitive data.
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How does Experian protect the information collected?

Experian considers itself a steward of the information it collects, maintains and utilizes. Our responsibility is to ensure the security of the information in our care and to maintain the privacy of consumers through appropriate, responsible use. Experian uses a variety of security systems to safeguard the information we maintain and provide. We maintain physical security for our facilities and limit access to critical areas. We conduct approval processes before information Experian maintains can be accessed or changed.
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What is a security freeze?

A security freeze, also known as a credit report freeze, file freeze or credit report lockdown, is designed to prevent a credit reporting company (the Experian® bureau, Equifax or TransUnion) from releasing credit report information without a consumer’s consent.

However, you should be aware that using a security freeze to take control over who is allowed access to the personal and financial information in your file may delay, interfere with or prohibit the timely approval of any subsequent request or application you make regarding a new loan, credit, mortgage, insurance, government services or payments, rental housing, employment, investment, license, cellular telephone, utilities, digital signature, Internet credit card transaction or other services, including an extension of credit at point of sale.

When you place a security freeze on your file, you will be provided a personal identification number or password to use if you choose to remove the security freeze from your file or authorize the temporary release of your credit report for a specific person or period after the security freeze is in place. To provide that authorization, you must contact the reporting agency and provide all the following:

  1. Sufficient identification to verify your identity.
  2. Your personal identification number or password provided by the credit reporting company.
  3. A statement that you choose to remove the security freeze from your file or that you authorize the reporting agency to temporarily release your consumer report. If you authorize the temporary release of your consumer report, you must name the person who is to receive your consumer report or the period for which your consumer report must be available.

A security freeze generally does not apply to circumstances in which you have an existing account relationship and a copy of your report is requested by your existing creditor or its agents or affiliates for certain types of account review, collection, fraud control or similar activities.

If you are actively seeking credit, you should understand that the procedures involved in lifting a security freeze may slow your own applications for credit. You should plan ahead and lift a freeze, either completely if you are shopping around, or specifically for a certain creditor, a few days before actually applying for new credit.
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What is an initial security alert (90 day fraud alert)?

An initial security alert notifies potential credit grantors that they should verify a consumer’s identification before credit is extended in their name. Fraud alerts can be placed with one or all three credit bureaus; the Experian® bureau, Equifax and TransUnion. Fraud alerts last for 90 days and can be renewed for 90-day intervals.

Remember! An alert may prevent you from being approved for new credit or you may be asked to provide identity information!
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Why would I place an initial security alert message?

An initial security alert message is added to a credit report if you suspect that your identification information has been or could be used fraudulently.
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What is a dispute?

A Dispute is the disagreement over the accuracy of an item (or items) on your credit report that you would like to have updated or removed. Disputes must be submitted to the credit reporting agency who provided the credit report on which the potential error is found. Examples of items that can be disputed:

  • Account Related errors (unrecognized accounts or public record items, inaccurate credit limits)
  • Personal information errors (wrong name or address, incorrect employer)
  • Derogatory mark errors (paid off collections account still showing unpaid, paid lien
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How do I get my free annual credit report from the Experian® bureau, Equifax® and TransUnion®?

Under federal law you are entitled to a copy of your credit report annually from all three credit reporting agencies - the Experian® bureau, Equifax® and TransUnion® - once every 12 months. Every consumer should check their credit reports from each of the 3 bureaus annually. Doing so will allow you to make sure your credit is up-to-date and accurate. Each reporting agency collects and records information in different ways and may not have the same information about your credit history.

You may contact the Central Source by visiting www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

When you order, you will need to provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. To verify your identity, you may need to provide some information on your credit report, such as the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. Your free annual credit report does not include your credit score.
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What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is the crime of using someone else's personal information, such as an account number, driver's license, health insurance card or Social Security number, to commit fraud.
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Are the Fraud Resolution Agents employees of Experian?

Experian Fraud Resolution Agents are employees of an Experian group company. We do not use a third party subcontractor for our Fraud Resolution Services.
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What can Experian Fraud Resolution Agents do to help me?

A member of our Identity Theft Resolution Team will be assigned to work with you in addressing your concerns. We will follow these six steps to protect you from the damages caused by identity theft:

  1. Notify banks, creditors and service providers: We'll be on the phone with you to assist with notifying your creditors, medical benefits company, your bank or other financial institutions, and your utilities. And if correspondence by mail is required, we'll draft letters for you to sign.
  2. Place fraud alerts on your credit report: We'll help you place an immediate, 90-day alert on your credit report at all three major credit bureaus, to warn lenders and other potential credit grantors that you may be a victim of identity theft. Plus, we'll help you renew the fraud alert if necessary, or add a 7-year alert if your identity proves to have been stolen.
  3. Report the fraud to government agencies: We walk you through the steps of contacting your local law enforcement agency to file a report regarding the fraudulent activity. This report becomes your official "Identity Theft Report" a document that creditors and credit bureaus may ask for. If you wish to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission, we'll help you with that too.
  4. Check your credit reports: In the event of an identity theft, we'll review your Experian® bureau, TransUnion and Equifax files with you so we can help you identify possible fraudulent activity you may be unaware of. We'll immediately get started helping you resolve any issues we find.
  5. Cancel or request new credit, debit or insurance cards: Depending on the situation, you may need to cancel or change some or all of your accounts as a result of the identity theft. We'll help you determine which accounts to close. We'll guide you through contacting your card issuers, medical benefits companies and/or financial institutions to close your current accounts, report stolen checks, stop payments on outstanding checks you've written (if necessary) and transfer any recurring charges from your old accounts to new ones.
  6. Secure and reclaim your identity: We'll help you gather the necessary information you'll need to make telephone calls or to send letters to your creditors, your bank, the credit bureaus, and any others who may be involved in the process of securing and reclaiming your identity.
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How do I know if I am a victim of identity theft? What are the red flags?

Disclaimer:

This is not intended to include all methods of determining if you are a victim, and may not be enough to help identify if you are a victim of identity theft.

Questions to ask yourself about the item you believe is fraudulent:

  • Are you familiar with the company, or do you have any pre-existing business with them?
  • Have you recently requested a change to an existing account?
  • Have you requested a credit limit increase on your account?
  • Have you recently applied for anything with the company?
  • Have you recently cosigned with anyone on an account?
  • Are you looking to acquire/refinance a mortgage/auto loan?

If you answer “no” to any of these questions or you believe someone using your identity to fraudulently apply for an account in your name, you may need to contact an Experian agent for assistance.
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How can I respond to credit fraud or identity theft?

PLACE A 90-DAY FRAUD ALERT ON YOUR CREDIT FILE

An initial 90 day security alert indicates to anyone requesting your credit file that you suspect you are a victim of fraud. When you or someone else attempts to open a credit account in your name, increase the credit limit on an existing account, or obtain a new card on an existing account, the lender should takes steps to verify that you have authorized the request. If the creditor cannot verify this, the request should not be satisfied. You may contact one of the credit reporting companies below for assistance.

PLACE A SECURITY FREEZE ON YOUR CREDIT FILE

If you are very concerned about becoming a victim of fraud or identity theft, a security freeze might be right for you. Placing a freeze on your credit report will prevent lenders and others from accessing your credit report in connection with new credit applications, which will prevent them from extending credit. A security freeze general does not apply to circumstances in which you have an existing account relations and a copy of your report is requires by your existing creditor or its agents or affiliates for certain types of account review, collection, fraud control or similar activities. With a Security Freeze in place, you will be required to take special steps when you wish to apply for any type of credit. This process is also completed through each of the credit reporting companies.

Review your credit report

In most cases, fraudulent activity can be detected by reviewing the accounts, inquiries and addresses that appear on a credit report. Review your report carefully for the following items:

  • Accounts: If you do not recognize an account and the account is newly opened, that may indicate that a criminal has obtained a line of credit using your identity.
  • Inquiries: Review all the inquiries on your credit report in the section titled "Requests viewed by others". This section contains inquiries from creditors that have accessed your credit report to process an application. If you do not recognize the credit grantor accessing your report, that may indicate fraudulent activity.
  • Addresses: Review the addresses appearing on your credit report. If you discover an address that you do not recognize, it may indicate that the address was used on a fraudulent application for credit.

File an identity theft report with your local police department

Once you have confirmed fraudulent activity on your credit report or from another source, file an identity theft report with a law enforcement agency, typically your local police department.

  • Experian recommends that you call the non-emergency number for your local police department and explain what has happened. They can tell you what information you need to provide.

Notify lenders and credit card companies

Fraudulent accounts created with your identity

  • Even though the fraudulent accounts created under your name were not from you, it is in your best interest to contact those businesses and let them know you were a victim of fraud. Contacting them directly may help you resolve the fraudulent information in your credit report more efficiently.

Existing accounts that have been compromised

  • Notifying your existing account holders of your victimization is a good idea, as it may help to reduce further fraudulent activities.

Report your victimization to state and federal agencies

If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, here is some important contact information that can help you respond:

  • Driver's license number fraud: Notify your state's Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Social Security number used to commit identity theft: Notify the Federal Trade Commission at 1 877 ID THEFT and U.S. Social Security Administration (https://www.ssa.gov/)
  • Social Security number used to commit identity theft: Notify the Federal Trade Commission at 1 877 ID THEFT and U.S. Social Security Administration (https://www.ssa.gov/)

Monitor your credit

Checking your credit reports regularly is one of the best ways to engage with your credit information. It can also help you detect suspicious activity that may appear on your Experian® bureau, Equifax and Transunion credit reports, allowing you to minimize the damage from identity theft or fraud. Experian’s ProtectMyID checks your credit reports each day, and notifies you when key changes are detected. Visit ProtectMyID.com for more information.

Note: An Experian Fraud Resolution agent can guide you through many of the steps above should they be required.


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How can I minimize my risk of becoming an identity theft victim?

MANAGE YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION

Take steps such as: carrying only essential documents with you; being aware of whom you are sharing your personal information with and shredding receipts, statements, and other sensitive information

  • Don't carry anything unnecessary in your wallet or purse:This includes your Social Security card, extra credit cards, birth certificate, voter's registration card and PINs or passwords you've written down on paper.
  • Keep a record of everything in your wallet:Know what's in your wallet so you know whom to contact in the event of a lost wallet or stolen wallet. You can make copies of the front and back of your cards, including driver's license and medical insurance, or write down the account numbers and contact information. Store the copies or list in a secure place at home.
  • Protect your existing credit and debit cards:If available, request credit and debit cards with your photo on the front. Instead of signing the back, write "please ask for photo id" to minimize the risk of identity theft and your cards being used by anyone but you.
  • Shred all documents that contain your information before discarding:Shred all documents (credit card statements, bills, credit card receipts, tax returns, unused checks, canceled checks, and credit reports) that contain account information, Social Security numbers, PINs, or sensitive information.
  • Shred all expired forms of identification and cards:Shred expired credit cards and driver's licenses, and never leave receipts at bank machines, bank counters, trash receptacles, or unattended gas pumps.
  • Never leave sensitive documents in your car:Don't leave your purse or wallet in the car seat or floorboard while shopping at the mall or grocery store. Instead put them in the trunk or take them with you when you leave the vehicle. If easily visible, they make a prime target for identity thieves searching for documents such as drivers’ licenses, Social Security Cards, and account information such as checking account or credit card numbers.

PREVENT ONLINE OR TELEPHONE THEFT

  • Never send personal information via email:Never respond to emails asking you to verify your password, account number, Social Security number, or credit card numbers.
  • Never open attachments from emails you don't recognize:Viruses and Trojan Horses, which criminals use to takeover computers, often need your help to activate and infect your computer. Disguised as a video, attachment or link, these malware (malicious code) programs download to your computer once you click on a targeted link.
  • Never provide information over the phone unless you initiated the call:Make sure you are communicating with your lender or a business with a legitimate need for your information.
  • Create strong passwords:Use passwords that are at least eight digits and include letters, numbers, symbols, and upper and lower cases. Do not choose obvious passwords. Avoid pets' names, birthdates, or last four digits of your phone number or Social Security number.
  • Save minimal information in your online accounts:Do not save or "remember" credit card information or passwords with websites. Even reputable companies have security breaches. Be wary of websites that ask for more information than is really needed to set up an account or conduct a transaction. Also be careful not to over share on social networking sites.

MONITOR KEY DOCUMENTS FOR SIGNS OF FRAUD

  • Monitor your monthly statements:Never respond to emails asking you to verify your password, account number, Social Security number, or credit card numbers.
  • Review explanation of benefits (EOBs) from Health insurance companies
  • Keep a schedule of all your monthly statements:Keep a schedule that indicates when credit card bills, bank statements, new credit cards, and other mail is scheduled to arrive, and contact all relevant creditors, banks, or vendors if an expected piece of mail is late. When on vacation, ask the post office to place a vacation hold on all mail.
  • Review your Social Security statement:Review your Social Security Earnings and Benefits Statement annually to check for fraud by calling 1-800-772-1213 or visiting www.ssa.gov.
  • Review your annual credit reports:You can request a free copy once every 12 months. Your credit report can contain the first clues that you are fraud victim. Reviewing it regularly will help you discover fraud and stop it quickly. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228. Once you receive your credit reports, review them for discrepancies. Identify any accounts you did not open or inquiries from creditors that you did not authorize. Verify all information is correct. If you have questions or notice incorrect information, contact the credit reporting company.

Monitor your credit

Checking your credit reports regularly is one of the best ways to engage with your credit information. It can also help you detect suspicious activity that may appear on your Experian® bureau, Equifax and Transunion credit reports, allowing you to minimize the damage from identity theft or fraud. Experian’s ProtectMyID checks your credit reports each day, and notifies you when key changes are detected. Visit ProtectMyID.com for more information.

USE TOOLS FROM CREDIT PROVIDERS

Carefully review your credit reports and bank, credit card and other account statements. Be proactive and create alerts on credit cards and bank accounts to notify you of activity. If you discover unauthorized or suspicious activity on your credit report or by any other means, file an identity theft report with your local police and contact a credit reporting company.

OBTAIN MORE INFORMATION ABOUT IDENTITY THEFT AND WAYS TO PROTECT YOURSELF

  • The Federal Trade Commission has an identity theft hotline: 877-438-4338; TTY: 1-866-653-4261. They also provide information on-line at www.ftc.gov/idtheft.

Review additional educational material at https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/category/credit-education/identity-theft-credit-fraud/

Learn more about how to respond to identity theft by reading about topics such as:

  • Tax Time and ID Theft
  • What you should know about Chip-and –PIN
  • Security Tips for Mobile App Users
  • Identity Protection while Traveling
  • And more
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This information is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.

 

 


Experian and the Experian marks used herein are service marks or registered trademarks of Experian Information Solutions, Inc. Other product and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.