Becoming the victim of an information breach is an experience no one wants to go through. Yet, even with the best prevention strategies and careful monitoring, this could happen to you.
We recommend that everyone read up and learn about what to do in the case of an information breach. You’ll want to act quickly to prevent fraudulent activity and damage to your credit score.
Here’s a step-by-step look at what to do if your information is part of a data breach.
1. Set up notifications and alerts
The company at fault for the breach of your information should send you a notice explaining the information that others might have about you. Keep this documentation as you might need it later.
Consider following the instructions included in the paperwork they send you. You should now be on alert for any suspicious or out-of-the-ordinary things that come your way. This might include items in the mail that are not something you're accustomed to getting, such as strange bank statements or loan information.
Be very wary of items from the IRS or anything requesting additional information or documentation. Don’t fall for these tricks to get further information about you.
2. Initiate fraud alerts
You can let lenders know that you are a data breach victim. This will help them be wary of credit requests under your name, and you’ll get alerts whenever this takes place.
Initiate these fraud alerts with any one of the three major credit bureaus of Experian, Equifax or TransUnion. Once you’ve set up these alerts, the credit bureau will inform the other two and you’ll start getting notifications from all three if someone makes an inquiry under your name.
Using this process, lenders will reach out to you directly before fulfilling any loan requests. Fraud alerts are good for one year, though you can extend that by filling out a new alert once the original one expires.
3. Watch Financial Accounts Closely
With so much automation and digital tools for finances, people are checking their accounts less frequently. They know their employer will direct deposit their paychecks and that their utilities will automatically draft from their accounts.
But when you become a breach victim, you need to log into your financial accounts frequently. That way, you can flag fraudulent activity immediately and dispute it to avoid consequences. The sooner you catch strange activity, the easier it will be to take affirmative action.
4. Request a credit report regularly
You can request a credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus annually. If you’re monitoring your credit due to an information breach, you should request one report every four months to take full advantage of this service.
The only way to request your credit report online is through annualcreditreport.com. All other websites that claim to provide a credit report are probably fraudulent. You can learn safe practices for requesting your credit report from the FTC website.
5. Place a security freeze on your account
A security freeze prevents lenders from viewing your credit report. You can add a security freeze online with Experian or TransUnion. Just know that to take out a loan, you’ll need to unfreeze your account.
These freezes have no end date so keep track of when you put a freeze on your account so you don’t get a surprise when you go to take out a line of credit.
Still have questions?
If you’re still unsure about how a breach could impact you or how to recover from it financially, reach out to our team. We’ll answer your questions and be your resource through this challenging time.