Not everyone will be a victim of identity theft as a result of a breach, but keeping informed can help you lessen the risk when dealing with any data breach. When a breach does occur, you can take action by doing a few things.
What You Should Do Now
If you have been part of a data breach, the breached company may send you a notice. Retain all documents and consider any suggestions they may have. Also, pay attention to and retain any mail you receive that is unfamiliar to you, such as notices from the IRS regarding your taxes or any bills from unknown lenders.
Monitor your financial accounts
Visit your online bank and financial accounts, and set up any alert features they may have, if you have not already done so. This could help save some time and keep you notified of any unusual events when they occur.
Monitor your credit reports
You can check your credit report from each bureau for free once every twelve months by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. Checking your credit report can help you identify any unusual activity, such as new accounts, new personal information or inquiries. If you would like to keep a closer eye on your credit, you can also get a free Experian credit report, which will be updated once every 30 days on sign in.
An additional precautionary step you can take for free
Place a free fraud alert on all three credit files
You can place a fraud alert for free with Experian, Equifax or TransUnion®. When you request that a fraud alert should be added with any of the three major credit bureaus, the bureau you contacted will notify the other two and alerts will be added with those bureaus as well. A fraud alert (also known as an initial security alert) will warn lenders that you may have been a fraud victim. This extra precaution will notify the potential lender that they should take additional steps to verify your identity before granting any new line of credit in your name. The fraud alert will stay on your credit report for 90 days, and you can renew it when it expires. You can find more information about the differences between a fraud alert and a freeze in our article What Is the Difference Between a Credit Freeze and Fraud Alert?
If you want to restrict access to your credit report
Freeze or lock your credit file
Freezing or locking your credit will prevent lenders and others from accessing your Experian credit report in response to new credit applications. This may include mortgages, refinances, auto loans, cell phone financing, rental agreements, and the establishment of utilities such as gas and electric services. A frozen or locked credit file may also prevent credit checks that are carried out during job offers and insurance applications, as well as impacting your ability to use systems that leverage Experian’s identity verification services.
Lock your Experian credit file with Experian IdentityWorks™
If you are a member of Experian IdentityWorks, you can lock and unlock your Experian credit file at any time from your browser or on the go with our mobile app. Experian IdentityWorks will send you real-time notifications when someone attempts to access your Experian credit report.
Freeze your credit file
You may consider adding a security freeze. Once frozen, your credit report will only be accessible by unfreezing your file with the correct PIN, which you should keep in a safe place. Learn more about freezing your Experian credit report. Fees and requirements for adding and removing a freeze vary by state. Security freezes must be placed separately with each credit bureau: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.