How do you know if your personal information was stolen?
Curious if you’re one of the victims? Don’t wait until you’re hit with a major bill for unrecognizable purchases made in your name. Here are some effective ways to make sure that you’re safe:
Check your Credit Report using Credit Sense
You can view your credit report for free through your online banking. You can refresh your credit information daily and receive email updates if anything on your credit report changes. Click here to learn how.
Your report will show information about you from the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion; review everything.
You’ll want to look for unidentified accounts or loans in your name, and inaccurate information—these are signs that someone has stolen your identity.
Place a freeze on your files
When you freeze your credit files, you make it impossible for new accounts to be opened in your name. Of course, this is problematic for your own finances, so only take this step if you feel confident that someone is trying to abuse your identity. Also keep in mind that a credit freeze doesn’t prevent charges from occurring on existing accounts. To place a freeze on your report, contact each credit bureau. The cost of this service varies by state but commonly ranges from $3 to $10. Generally, you do not have to pay a fee if you were the victim of identity theft. As proof, you may have to provide the bureaus with a police report or another affidavit.
Once the request is received and processed, the credit bureaus will send you a private personal identification number that you can use to lift the freeze. You will need to lift it before applying for credit or if you want a potential employer, landlord, or other business to check your credit. Depending on your state, there may be a fee to lift the freeze as well as a fee to add it again.
Credit Bureau Contact Information
Attn. Transunion Fraud Victim Assistance
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
Attn. Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, Georgia 30348
Sign up for fraud alerts
Think you might’ve been victimized but don’t want to choose the nuclear option of a credit freeze? Place fraud alerts on your credit files. With fraud alerts, creditors are required to verify that anyone trying to open a line of credit in your name is truly you.
Monitor existing credit card and financial institution accounts closely for charges that are not recognized
Visit Equifax’s website
To help victims of the data breach, Equifax created a dedicated website. Whether or not you were impacted by the hack, you can sign up for free credit monitoring for a year. For anyone who suspects their finances are vulnerable, it may be a good way to maintain peace of mind.
Use BALANCE’s resources
As a nonprofit dedicated to your financial health, check out our Identity Theft Toolkit to protect yourself against fraud.
Additionally, victims of the Equifax data breach can call our Certified Financial Coaches. They can help you review your credit report, and get your finances back on track. Contact us today.