Always monitor your bank accounts & Credit Reports
to avoid potential data breaches or hacks.
Data breaches and hacks can come about in several ways, and when they occur, we suddenly feel ourselves becoming overwhelmed with those unsettling feelings of nervousness and anxiety. While there is no foolproof way of completely avoiding data breaches altogether, there are a few steps one can take to prevent them from happening.
Monitor Your reports at least once every year!
One of the most important steps you can take when protecting yourself against fraud is monitoring your credit reports at least once every year. Doing so will help to protect your financial identity and keep your mind at ease. It’s also good to note that by law, you are granted one FREE credit report per year from EACH of the three main credit bureaus. If you are interested in checking your identity theft information or viewing your credit reports, check out annualcreditreport.com. It is one of the most respected sources out there, where you can get your reports for FREE! It’s also sponsored by the three major credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, & TransUnion.
What Signs Should You Look for to Spot a Potential Data Breach?
Now, you may be asking yourself what should I be looking for to spot a potential breach? Always make sure all the accounts associated with your name are indeed yours, and you know for a fact that only you have opened them. This may be common sense to most, but the fact of the matter is, that data breaches tend to occur right in “plain sight” because most people rarely monitor their personal information until something happens. It is also important to confirm that any addresses listed are recognizable and your employer is accurate as well. Also, make sure any hard credit requests you have applied for in the past are ones only you have asked for.
even major credit bureaus can become subject to fraud
It is important to keep in mind that there is no surefire way to stop data breaches altogether; even major credit bureaus can become subject to fraud. For example, in 2017 Equifax was hacked and nearly 148 million Americans were affected by this breach, losing countless personal and financial data. The data leaked from this attack included birthdates, Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and even driver’s license numbers. Unfortunately, large credit bureaus are bigger targets for data breaches due to the fact that they monitor and handle thorough personal and financial records. Even so, if this were to happen again to any of the major credit bureaus, there are still steps one can take to avoid further damage.
remember to Freeze your credit after a data breach
To better protect yourself after a significant data breach, one can freeze their credit to restrict access from an unwanted user. This is an approach you can capitalize on for free! Credit freezes are certainly the most drastic of measures to take after a data breach, but it is also the most effective because it stops the hacker from opening new accounts in your name. Even if you do freeze your credit you will still be able to monitor your scores and records. If you don’t feel comfortable freezing your credit you could also put your credit on lock. The main difference between the two is that it just takes longer to unfreeze your credit rather than unlocking it. Most credit bureaus also offer apps that make it possible to unlock your credit with a simple swipe of your finger. Finally, it is possible to alert your credit bureau of fraud or placing a “fraud alert” on your account. This communicates to creditors that they must confirm your identity before any credit can be placed in your name.
Now, let’s recap. It is vital that you consistently monitor your credit reports once every year to make sure your personal information or identity has not been tampered with. Take advantage of the fact that you can request one free credit report per year from each of the main credit bureaus. Always be on the lookout for any suspicious activity, and if you ever see anything suspicious, immediately contact your credit providers and bank so they are aware of the breach. If your credit ever becomes hacked it is also important that you either freeze, lock, or place a “fraud alert” on your account so no further damage can be done. If you are concerned about identity theft or want to view your credit reports, visit annualcreditreport.com.
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