There are two primary possibilities when it comes to personal information and ID theft.
- Your information was compromised – you may have received a letter detailing a breach of your information or suspect a breach based upon media reports. The concern in this case is that someone will open accounts in your name with the stolen information. This post will detail your options.
- Someone has stolen your credit/debit card information and is making fraudulent charges on an account that you had opened. We have posted what steps you should take in this situation here.
If your data has been compromised, there are steps you can take, but until a fraudulent act has been discovered, there is only so much you can do. The following steps are relatively easy to complete and, if you follow these steps, can make paying for credit monitoring or protection unnecessary.
- Get free current copies of your credit report to make sure you opened all the accounts listed. You can get three free reports each year. If you get one report every 4 months, this is plenty of monitoring for most people. This website is a great place to start: https://www.ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/get-my-free-credit-report
- Monitor these reports on a regular basis to make sure no unauthorized accounts show up. If no fraudulent accounts show up, you do not need to take any action.
- If you are worried that someone will try to open accounts you can ‘freeze’ your credit. This tool lets you restrict access to your credit report, which in turn makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. There is a small fee to do this and you will need to create a PIN (and remember it so you can unfreeze your credit!) Find out more here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs
If you discover an account that you did not open, please let us know. We will be more than happy to assist you in correcting the situation. Remember that if someone opens an account in your name, you will not lose any money, but you will lose some time to clean up the mess.