News outlets seem to highlight a new data compromise every week. Hackers and scammers are continually gaining access to files containing sensitive personal information, such as Social Security numbers. So what can you do to deter identity theft if you are alerted your personal information may have been compromised?
- Place a fraud alert on your credit report: Contact one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion or Experian) to put a fraud alert on your credit report. Alerting one of the credit bureaus results in all three of the bureaus having this information. The fraud alert creates an extra level of security, and you have the option to add your phone number to be contacted for concerns about suspicious applications. This free fraud alert lasts for only 90 days, though you may renew every 90 days for another 90 days. You may also wish to consider placing a credit freeze, which keeps lenders and others from accessing your credit profile. Credit freezes will need to be placed with each credit bureau, and fees may apply, depending on your state of residence.
- Review your credit report: Requesting and reviewing a copy of your credit report each year can be helpful even if you haven’t been alerted that your personal information has been compromised. You may request a free copy from the credit bureaus, or from www.annualcreditreport.com. Take a look at this report – make sure you recognize all the open, closed, and derogatory accounts, as well as the recent inquiries. If you don’t recognize a certain item, it may indicate that someone has used your information to apply for a financial account and/or loan.
- Monitor your credit score: Keep an eye on your credit score as sudden, unexplained dips could be a red flag indicating your Social Security number may have been used by someone else to apply for credit. PSECU offers a free credit score service* that provides you with your credit score each month. Visit psecu.com/fico for more information and enrollment instructions.
Many times, the company that is the source of the information breach will offer free credit monitoring services – look into their offer and consider if it might be right for you. For further information about identity theft, visit consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft and/or identitytheft.gov.
The content provided in this publication is for informational purposes only. Nothing stated is to be construed as financial or legal advice. PSECU does not endorse any third parties, including, but not limited to, referenced individuals, companies, organizations, products, blogs or websites. PSECU does not warrant any advice provided by third parties. PSECU does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided by third parties. PSECU recommends that you seek the advice of a qualified financial, tax, legal or other professional if you have questions.
* PSECU is not a credit reporting agency. Members must have PSECU checking or a PSECU loan to be eligible for this service. Joint Owners are not eligible.