Protect Yourself from the Identity Theft
The credit reporting agency Equifax reported an unprecedented data breach this summer. Hackers accessed sensitive client data, including names, Social Security numbers and credit card numbers of 143 million Americans and over 8 million New Yorkers.
In response, I’m supporting legislation to allow consumers to “freeze” their credit report information with Equifax and other credit reporting agencies at any time, for any reason, at no charge. A credit freeze prevents unauthorized companies or individuals from accessing your credit report or opening a new credit account in your name.
Here are steps you can take now to reduce the chance that your information will be compromised:
Safe Data Checklist:
- Check to see if your data was exposed. Check online at www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/ or call 1-866-447-7559 from 7 a.m. – 1 a.m. for basic questions about the breach.
- Enroll in identity theft protection and credit file monitoring services. Equifax is offering this service complimentary via TrustedID Premier. According to the State Attorney General, you do not waive your right to arbitration or legal action by enrolling this service. The deadline to sign up is November 21, 2017.
- Put a fraud alert on your credit report. This free service lasts 90 days and can be renewed. To request this service contact:
o TransUnion, www.TransUnion.com, 1-800-888-4213
o Equifax, www.Equifax.com, 1-866-447-7559
o Experian, www.Experian.com, 1-888-397-3742
- Keep a close eye out for unusual activity on your bank and credit card account statements and opt-in for activity and fraud alerts from your bank.
- Consider freezing your credit reports. Go to www.consumer.ftc.gov
- Create a recovery plan if you think your identity has been stolen.
- Watch out for tax-related fraud. Monitor your Social Security statement at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount
- If you experience tax-related fraud, file an Identity Theft Affidavit (Form 14039) with the IRS at www.irs.gov. You only need to do this if: your Social Security number has been compromised and your efile return was rejected as a duplicate; or the IRS has informed you that you may be a victim of tax-related identity theft.
- Continue to monitor your accounts. Your data can be used at any time in the future.
- Check your credit reports regularly. Credit reports are available for free once a year from www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Do not use the same passwords for all of your accounts.
- Keep you anti-virus and security software up to date.
- Shred documents containing personal information before you discard them. Look for shredding events hosted by me or other government offices. Last month I hosted one at Penn Station where we shredded paper containing sensitive personal information amounting to over four tons.
Sources: Office of NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman & the Citizens Crime Commission of NYC