How to protect yourself after a data breach
Large data breaches that expose consumers’ sensitive personal information have become a common part of life. So it pays to know your options.
In July, Capital One revealed that a breach affected approximately 100 million U.S. consumers and 6 million consumers in Canada. He promised free credit monitoring and identity protection services to affected groups: those who applied for Capital One credit cards between 2005 and 2019, and existing credit card and secure card customers.
The news came just after the settlement of Equifax’s massive data breach in 2017, which exposed the personal information of nearly 148 million American consumers, or more than half of adults in the United States.
Whether your financial data has been compromised or you just want to proactively protect your credit, you can take action. Follow these steps to protect your financial life:
1. For better protection, freeze your credit
A credit freeze it is unlikely that your stolen financial information could be used to open new accounts in your name. Most creditors check your credit history as part of the application process – with a freeze in place, they cannot access your credit history and will refuse to open a new account.
Freezing your credit does not affect your score. And when you want to open a new line of credit, you can just temporarily release your credit.
Freezing and unlocking your credit at each of the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – is now free for all consumers.
2. Place a fraud alert if you can’t freeze now
If you don’t want to lock out creditors – maybe you’re applying for a mortgage or car loan – you can instead Fraud alert to your credit reports.
This type of alert alerts potential creditors to verify your identity before issuing new credit in your name.
A fraud alert lasts for one year and is renewable. You should contact only one of the three offices and request the alert; he will inform the others.
For better protection, don’t forget to freeze your credit at all three bureaus after you have completed your applications.
3. Check the 3 credit reports
You are entitled to at least one free credit report from each credit bureau every 12 months via AnnualCreditReport.com. If you’ve already accessed them within that time frame, you get another round of free reports once you place a fraud alert.
Additionally, Equifax’s Violation Settlement will provide all U.S. consumers with six additional free credit reports per year for seven years, starting in 2020.
Check your reports for any signs of a problem, especially:
New accounts that you haven’t opened.
Credit requests that do not match the credit request.
Balances that do not match your statements.
Between your free annual reports, monitor your credit more frequently by taking advantage of a free credit report source.
4. Monitor your credit card activity
Freezing can prevent new accounts from being opened in your name, but it cannot prevent fraudulent charges on an existing account. Protect yourself in these ways:
Stay on top of your credit card statements. Look for accusations that you don’t recognize and if something seems suspicious to you, dig into them. There is often a phone number listed with the merchant’s name for each transaction.
Sign up to receive text or electronic alerts on credit transactions. Many credit card issuers allow you to set them for each debit or for those over a certain amount.