After the Equifax breach, our office received numerous calls for advice from clients on what to do should their identity been stolen (since it can be difficult to verify who exactly was impacted). Identity theft can also extend a bit farther than immediate charges to your bank account – although this is a concern so please remain diligent in checking your accounts – identity thieves can obtain more with the information they took. This can be anything from: opening new accounts in your name; applying/accepting jobs and paychecks in your name; filing for your tax refunds; and the list goes on. We know of a few things you can do to make sure your info is as protected as it can be.
Firstly, you can freeze your credit – this way no one can open another account under your name. Here are the links and phone numbers for three of the major credit bureaus:
Equifax: (800)685-1111 https://www.freeze.equifax.com/
Experian: (888)397-3742 https://www.experian.com/ncaconline/freeze
TransUnion: (888)909-8872 https://freeze.transunion.com
They will each charge a small fee for freezing your credit and they will give you a PIN (or you will set one up) for when you want to unfreeze your credit. Also, you can still monitor your credit by pulling a credit report every four months (even with your credit frozen) to make sure there is nothing out of the ordinary.
There are companies which offer to both protect and monitor your identity for a fee which can be another option. This can be a viable plan for those who still want the protection with a little less of the hands-on work. However, be sure to find a legitimate company. Scammers will try to be such a company as a means to get access to your information. They can contact you in many ways whether it be from an ad on social media, phone call, mail, email, etc. Be sure to make sure the company chosen is in fact legitimate should this be the route for you.
A couple of minor things that can be done as well are: filing your taxes earlier (to avoid tax return fraud), and have two-factor authentication on all of your accounts with all of the passwords being different (no doubling up).
If you have any questions on this, please feel free to stop in or call our office (507) 333-3973.