If your personal information, such as your date of birth, Social Security Number, or credit card numbers, is exposed in a data breach, there are some things you can do to limit the potential damage from identity theft. Protecting yourself after a data breach has to be a habit.
1. Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Any activity you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft.
2. Consider placing a credit freeze on your credit files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze shall not prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts. You’ll need to supply your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information. Fees may apply and commonly range from $5 to $10.
3. Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you do not recognize.
4. Consider placing a fraud alert on your credit files if you decide against freezing them. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name is really you.
5. File your taxes early, as soon as you have the tax information you need, before a scammer can file. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security Number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.