After the recent security breach of Equifax, one of the three main consumer credit bureaus. More than 143 million Americans’ personal information was compromised by hackers. This includes names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, credit card numbers, and driver’s license numbers. Now more than ever consumers should prepare themselves whether they’ve been affected or not by preventing identity theft. Here are the steps you should take now:
Check your credit report
Visit annualcreditreport.com to receive your free credit from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. If there is any unfamiliar accounts or strange activity this could indicate identity theft. To see if your account was impacted through Equifax here.
Monitor you credit
Remember to always monitor your bank accounts closely, including your existing credit cards for charges you don’t recognize. Once an authorized charge has been made or if someone successfully opens a new credit card in your name. You must take action, as the account will remain open until you contact the credit card company and report the fraud.
Set up fraud alerts
After checking your credit report you can set up a fraud alert on your credit from either of these three agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. A fraud alert informs creditors if you are a victim of identity theft. The credit report agencies should verify if the person who’s seeking credit in your name is in fact really you.
A credit freeze, won’t prevent charges on existing accounts, but it will make it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. To start or stop a credit freeze on your credit you must contact the credit bureaus. Remember that by doing so, you will not be able to open any new account or loans yourself as well.
File your taxes early
When someone uses your Social Security number for a job or for to obtain your tax refund is considered Tax identity theft. As soon as you have your tax information, file them before a wrongdoer does. Be sure to respond right away to letters from the Internal Revenue Service. If you are a victim of identity theft, visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what your next steps.