Broker Check

Have You Been the Victim of Identity Theft?

July 01, 2016

Have you been the victim of identity theft?Have your records been breached? If so, that panic you feel should lead to you take action.

Here’s what to do:

1. Monitor Your Credit. It is essential to check for new accounts that have been opened, and to see if any charges have been made that are unfamiliar to you. If there is fraudulent activity, it should be reported immediately. Free credit reports are available from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus once a year.

2. Place a Fraud Alert on Your File. If there are concerns about breached information, consider placing a fraud alert. This notifies creditors that additional caution should be taken regarding your account. If your account has a fraud alert in place, creditors are required to verify your identity before any new activity is initiated.

3. Freeze Your Credit File. If your information is stolen, freeze your credit. A credit freeze prevents anyone from accessing your credit report, which makes it difficult for hackers to open new accounts under your name. Certain entities such as existing creditors and the government will still have access. To obtain your credit report, the freeze must be lifted. You can unfreeze your credit; no one else can.

4. Be Careful Providing Personal Data After a Breach. Do not provide information to anyone requesting personal data through a phone call or email. Only respond to official correspondence such as the mail. Verify the source before corresponding. Many breaches lead to additional “phishing” attempts to get information needed to complete the establishment of new credit or ID — such as mother’s maiden name and old addresses.

What should you do to minimize the chances of a breach or minimize the impact if one occurs?

Consider a subscription to a credit monitoring service such as LifeLock, IdentityForce, Identity Guard, and TrustedID, to name a few. No one can guarantee that you will never be a victim, but just as a home alarm system deters would-be robbers, the identity thief will likely move on to an easier target.