You don’t want identity theft. Believe me.
One of the scariest moments of my life was when my data was stolen. A woman walked around Sacramento with a drivers license with her picture and my data. Since she had my Social Security number and date of birth, along with false documents, she opened up instant credit (or tried to) with over 15 retailers including Target, Lowe’s, Best Buy, and Home Depot.
The police recommended I report this to all three credit reporting agencies. When I tried to create an account with TransUnion online, I was told that I already had an account but it was locked out.
A shiver of fear went up my spine. I’d never been on the TransUnion site before.
Fortunately, she didn’t have all the security questions correct so the damage she did was limited.
It could have been really bad! With all my data, she could have actually assumed my identity — taken out loans and credit cards in my name. She might have even been able to buy a car, boat or even a house.
Take data breaches seriously.
This morning, I sprung into action. I checked my credit report, reviewed my monitoring service, logged into the Equifax data breach site to see if I was affected and I froze my credit with TransUnion and Equifax. Since I use a monitoring service through Experian and get regular alerts I didn’t freeze theirs.
I recommend you take some steps to review and protect your data. Here are 5 steps to take:
Review your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com to make sure no accounts were opened in your name.
This is the free service – won’t give you a score but you get three agency reports free once a year. You can get instant access online.
Check the Equifax Potential Impact site.
I tried it Thursday and it took 1 minute and 23 seconds for me to handle. You’ll have to put in your last name and the last 6 digits of your Social Security number and they will let you know if you are potentially impacted (mine said I was) and they give you a date to check back (mine was Sunday.) and you can sign you up for one year of free monitoring services.
Here is the link: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/
Check to see if your credit card information is being used.
Review your credit card transactions for unauthorized charges.
Log into your bank accounts or if you use an aggregator like Mint.com or HelloWallet, your transactions show up in your feed so you can see them all at once. Do this regularly!
Because of the breach, you might want to place a freeze on your credit with each of the credit reporting agencies.
There is a temporary 90-day freeze that you can do with no charge or you can permanently freeze your credit for a nominal charge – $10. Then if you need to open a credit card or take a loan, you can “unfreeze it.”
- Equifax call this number – 1-800-685-1111.
- For Transunion, you can freeze your information
- For Experian click here.
For more information:Here is a good article from Liz Peck on Forbes.com on Equifax incident.
Download my free E-Book (below)
Identity Theft, Fraud And Your Wealth: How To Stay Protected
Stay vigilant. I wish we didn’t have to but we do.