When Information Is Lost or Exposed

Did you recently get a notice that says your personal information was exposed in a data breach? Did you lose your wallet? Or learn that an online account was hacked? Depending on what information was lost, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself from identity theft.

What information was lost or exposed?

Social Security number:

  • If a company responsible for exposing your information offers you free credit monitoring, take advantage of it.
  • Get your free credit reports from annualcreditreport.com. Check for any accounts or charges you don’t recognize.
  • Consider placing a credit freeze . A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. If you place a freeze, be ready to take a few extra steps the next time you apply for a new credit card or cell phone – or any service that requires a credit check. If you decide not to place a credit freeze, at least consider placing a fraud alert.
  • Try to file your taxes early – before the scammer can. Tax Identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job.  Respond right away to letters from the IRS.
  • Don’t believe anyone who calls and says you’ll be arrested unless you pay for taxes or debt – even if they have part of all of your Social Security number, or they say they’re from the IRS.
  • Continue to check your credit reports at annualcreditreport.com. You can order a free report from each of the three credit reporting companies once a year.

Online login or password

  • Log in to that account and change your password. If possible, also change your username. If you can’t log in, contact the company. Ask them how you can recover or shut down the account.
  • If you use the same password anywhere else, change that too.
  • Is it a financial site, or is your credit card number stored on that site? Check your account for any charges that you don’t recognize.

Debit or Credit card number

  • Contact your bank or credit card company to cancel your card and request a new one.
  • Review your transactions regularly. Make sure no one misused your card. If you find fraudulent charges, call the fraud department and get them removed.
  • If you have automatic payments set up, update them with your new card number.
  • Check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com.

Bank account information

  • Contact your bank to close the account and open a new one.
  • Review your transactions regularly to make sure on one misused your account. If you find fraudulent charges or withdrawals, call the fraud department and get them removed.
  • If you have automatic payments set up, update them with your new bank account information.
  • Check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com.

Driver’s license information

  • Contact your nearest motor vehicles branch to report a lost or stolen driver’s license. The state might flag your license number in case someone else tries to use it, or they might suggest that you apply for a duplicate.
  • Check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com.

Children’s personal information

  • Request a credit freeze for your child – if this service is available in your state. A credit freeze will make it difficult for someone to use your child’s information to open accounts. To place a freeze, follow the specific instructions for each credit bureau:
  • Equifax    
  • Experian 
  • TransUnion
  • No matter what state you live in, you can check to see if your child has a credit report. Each bureau has specific instructions for these reports:
  • Equifax 
  • Experian (click on “Minor child instructions” under “Additional resources”)
  • TransUnion 
  • If a credit bureau has a credit report for your child, the credit bureau will send you a copy of the report. Use the instructions provided with the credit report to remove fraudulent accounts.
  • Review the FTC’s information on Child Identity Theft 

The information provided in this article was provided from the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft.gov

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