WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CREDIT INFORMATION HAS BEEN STOLEN:
Since more and more people are going online to shop, bank, file taxes, etc, there has been an increased risk of savvy thieves stealing personal information of millions of consumers. Even if you are careful, a thief may be able to obtain your information by hacking into the systems of larger businesses, as millions of people learned last year with the Equifax data breach. Equifax has set up a website for those who may have been impacted: Equifaxsecurity2017.com.
Even though credit card microchips have curtailed counterfeiting, thieves have focused on opening new accounts with stolen information. More than $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million American consumers in 2016.
If you learn your information has been compromised, here are some steps to take to regain control of your information. In every situation, you’ll want to continue to check your credit report and any additional unauthorized activity.
The first thing you should do if you suspect you’re a victim is to check all your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion by getting a free credit report at annualcreditreport.com. If you’ve already accessed your credit report this year, be aware that you may have to pay a fee to obtain another one.
Next would be to monitor your credit card and bank accounts for unauthorized activity and review each charge carefully. If you find or suspect you’re a victim of fraud, put a freeze on your credit file. This makes it more difficult for a thief to use your information to open a new account in your name, however, it won’t prevent them from making charges to your current credit accounts. You may also place a fraud alert on your credit file to warn creditors that your identity was compromised or stolen. This will prompt them to verify the identity of anyone looking to get credit in your name.
If your debit or credit card number has been stolen
- Contact your bank or credit card company to cancel your card and get a new one.
- Review all of your transactions and call the fraud department if you notice unauthorized charges.
- Update your automatic payments with the new card number as soon as it arrives.
- Change your password(s) on all your accounts.
If your bank account information has been stolen:
- Contact your bank and close your account, then open a new account.
- Review your transactions and report all fraudulent activities to your bank.
- Update automatic payments with your new information.
If your driver’s license information has been stolen:
- Contact the DMV and report your license stolen. The state may then flag the number in case someone tries to use it.