Not everyone will be a victim of identity theft as a result of a breach, but keeping informed can help you mitigate risk when dealing with any data breach. When a breach does occur, you can take action by doing a few things.
1. Stay Alert
If you have been part of a data breach, the breached company may send you a notice. Retain all documents and consider any suggestions they may have. Also, pay attention to and retain any mail you receive that is unfamiliar to you, such as notices from the IRS regarding your taxes or any bills from unknown lenders.
2. Initiate a Fraud Alert
You can set a fraud alert, which will warn lenders that you may have been a fraud victim. When you request a fraud alert be added with any of the three major credit bureaus, the bureau you contacted will notify the other two and alerts will be added with those bureaus as well.
This extra precaution will notify the potential lender that they should contact you before granting any new line of credit in your name. This fraud alert will stay on your credit report for 90 days. You can renew the fraud alert when it expires.
3. Monitor Your Financial Accounts
Visit your online bank and financial accounts, and set up any alert features they may have, if you have not already done so. This could help save some time and keep you notified of any unusual events when they occur.
4. Monitor Your Credit Reports
You can check your credit report for free once every twelve months by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. Checking your credit report can help you identify any unusual activity, such as new accounts, new personal information or inquiries. Experian free credit report members can check their Experian credit report for free every 30 days on sign-in.
5. Freeze or Lock Your Credit File
You may consider adding a security freeze, which is available to you for free. You can also freeze your credit reports with Equifax and Transunion. A security freeze will prevent potential lenders from accessing your credit report.
Your credit report will only be accessible by unfreezing the account. If you are planning on applying for new credit in the near future, you could consider postponing the security freeze. Also, if you are already a member of Experian IdentityWorks™, you can lock and unlock your Experian credit report at any time.
How We Can Help
If you think you may already be a victim of identity theft, visit our victim assistance center for our recommended steps to take.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.
This article was originally published on September 8, 2017, and has been updated.