There have been numerous news articles lately about large company data breeches. Data breaches can happen at any type of business, whether it’s a local dental clinic or a big online retailer. What does that mean? What can you do if your data has been stolen?
When sensitive records are lost or stolen, your personal information (Social Security number, credit card number, bank account information, etc.) lands in the hands of an identity thief. The thief can then use your information to steal money from your bank account, your credit cards, or to create new accounts in your name… among other things. Your credit score can suffer, as well as leaving you liable for the charges.
What you should know:
-US State laws usually require the breached business to notify affected customers within a certain amount of time.
-The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands all have some type of data breach law. Only five US states—Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Colorado—do not.
What to do if you are a victim of a data breach:
If you think you’ve been the victim of identity theft, or that your sensitive information may be in the wrong hands, here are some tips to help you resolve the matter.
Step 1: Contact the three credit bureaus
By contacting at least one of the three reporting agencies or credit bureaus (Experian®, TransUnion®, or Equifax®), an initial security alert (or fraud alert) can be immediately included in your credit profile to inform creditors to check your identity before approving credit. Keep in mind that an alert may limit your chances of being approved for new credit right away or you may be asked to provide additional proof of identification.
Securing a report from each of the three bureaus is highly recommended if you believe you might be the victim of identity theft or fraud. When you contact a credit bureau regarding your case, you may also request a complimentary credit report. If you alert one of the credit reporting bureaus about the fraudulent activity, the alert will be shared with the other credit reporting companies, so they can update their credit files.
Be sure to keep a record of all phone calls and all documents in connection with resolving this matter in case you need to refer to these items later.
Step 2: Review credit report(s) carefully
Thoroughly review your credit report for suspicious information or activity. Request a copy of your credit report from the credit bureaus. You should also review your billing statements and immediately notify each creditor to dispute what you believe are fraudulent charges. Keep detailed records of your conversations and interactions.
If you’ve identified fraudulent data, keep a list of all the potentially fraudulent information found on your credit report. Any data included that looks unfamiliar, including accounts, credit lines, addresses, and names should be reported.
Step 3: Obtain an Identity Theft Report
An Identity Theft Report will help you get fraudulent information removed from your credit report(s), prevent companies from collecting debts that result from identity theft, and can place an extended fraud alert on your credit profile. An extended fraud alert will last for seven years.
To create an Identity Theft Report, fill out a complaint form on the Federal Trade Commission’s website and print the Identity Theft Affidavit. Use that to file a police report and create your Identity Theft Report. You can also obtain an identity theft report by filing an official report about the identity theft to a federal, state, or other local law enforcement agency.
Step 4: Obtain an extended fraud alert and request removal of fraudulent data from your credit report
After you’ve obtained an Identity Theft Report, contact one of the bureaus again to place an extended fraud alert on your credit profile and have the fraudulent information removed.
After following these steps, it’s important to continue monitoring your credit history regularly. Understanding how identity theft can be detected early and resolved is one of the best things you can do to help protect yourself from the harmful effects of identity theft and identity fraud.
Your Digital Life Simplified!