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Have you been hacked? How to respond to concerns about a security breach or identity
by Laura Hendrix - September 11, 2017
Report it immediately to the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.identitytheft.gov or phone 1-877-438-4338, 1-866-653-4261 (TTY). You may also file a report with your
local police. Contact the credit reporting bureau about correcting your report. Have
an alert or a freeze placed on your credit reports. Close fraudulent accounts. Contact
creditors where false charges occurred.
Keep a close eye on your bank accounts. Always check statements. View account information
online and/or sign up for text alerts to monitor more frequently. Look for charges
or withdrawals that you didn’t make. Contact the bank or lender to report false or
You are entitled to one free annual credit report from each of the three major credit
reporting bureaus. Spread these out over the year and check one every four months. Be sure to go to the right website:
www.annualcreditreport.com. Other website may charge a fee. Your credit report is free but there is a small
fee ($10-$20) to obtain your credit score. Monitor your report for errors or signs
of fraud. If you see anything suspicious, contact the credit reporting bureau immediately.
You can place an Initial Fraud Alert on your credit report and creditors or business
must verify your identity when anyone applies for credit in your name. The initial
alert expires in 90 days but can be renewed. Victims of proven fraud are allowed
a 7 year fraud alert. Visit
www.annualcreditreport.com and click on a link for any of the credit bureaus. Placing a fraud alert with one
bureau automatically places the alert with the other bureaus.
A security freeze or credit freeze prevents lenders from accessing your report; so, no one will be able to open an account
in your name until you lift the freeze. Typically, a freeze with one bureau will not
automatically be placed on all three.
Carefully guard social security number, bank account numbers, personal identification
numbers, etc. Any financial documents (including checks) that you keep at home should
be in a secure location – preferably locked. Beware of calls or emails that ask for
personal or financial information. Never give out information over the phone unless
you initiated the call or are certain that you are talking to a reputable person.
If someone claims to be a relative or from your bank - verify their identity. It’s
okay to hang up and place a direct call to verify the identity of the caller. The
National Do Not Call Registry is a free, easy way to reduce telemarketing calls. To
register or to get information, visit www.donotcall.gov, or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register. Don’t open files
or click on links in emails from someone you don’t know. Thieves use phishing scams
to try to access your information. Cut back on the amount of legitimate marketing
emails you receive by contacting the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). Opt out of
receiving unsolicited commercial email from DMA members at www.dmachoice.org. Registration is free and lasts six years.
Dumpster diving can give thieves access to bank statements, credit card statements,
health insurance numbers, pre-approved credit card offers, and other personal information.
Shred anything that might have your personal financial information. Opt out of pre-screened
credit card and insurance offers. Call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com. Opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial mail from many companies for five years
by registering with the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). Your name will be put
on a "delete" file and made available to direct-mail marketers and organizations.
This registry applies only to organizations that use DMA's Mail Preference Service.
To register, go to www.dmachoice.org,
Do you shop or bank online? Have you used a mobile app to check your account balance?
Do you receive email messages from your credit card company? Make sure you keep virus
software up to date. Log-out of accounts, exit websites and close apps as soon as
you are finished. Password protect your phone, tablet, or computer. Use strong passwords.
Avoid obvious passwords such as your birthdate, address, maiden name, etc.