Were you one of the 143 million Americans affected by the recent Equifax data breach?
Sensitive personal information for around 1 in 3 U.S. consumers was exposed in what is called one of the worst data breaches in American history.
Now, those of us affected are wondering how to protect against identity theft.
There aren’t many things worse than realizing you’ve been the victim of someone using your identity without your permission. Your finances, reputation and credit score can be ruined when a person gets their hands on your personal information and uses it for their financial gain.
Identity theft can come in many forms. Almost half (45%) of all identity theft cases are tax and wage related, which means someone is using your identity to earn and collect money. Other identity cases are medical fraud, driver’s license theft and criminal identity theft.
Even child identity theft is a big problem. In 2015, 1.2 million parents were notified that their children’s social security number had been compromised.
Below are important steps to take if you become a victim of identity theft.
Step #1: Put a fraud alert on all credit reports.
Step #2: Get a copy of your credit report and analyze the charges.
Step #3: Contact any institution that was directly affected, such as the credit card company or your bank, if your card was stolen.
Step #4: Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and file an identity theft affidavit.
Step #5: File a police report.
Step #6: Contact the postal service.
Step #7: Change all of your passwords to unique ones.
Step #8: Do not log onto public wifi if you are on a banking or shopping application.
Step #9: Contact the social security fraud hotline.
To find out if your identity was compromised in the recent Equifax data breach, visit the FTC website here.