If you’re worried about your credit card information following the announcement by Equifax of a breach, which exposes 143 million people to identity theft, we have some very helpful tips to help you regain security and some control over the situation.
First, make sure you’re checking your financial accounts as much as you check your most used app or social network. You want to take note of any anomalous activity that looks suspicious.
Also, make sure to check your credit report. In case you didn’t know, you’re allowed a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian), every year. This will enable you to see any accounts that have been created using your sensitive information, such as your Social Security number. This means, if your information has been accessed since the breach, you will find out once you get the report.
If you haven’t already done so, you want to place fraud alerts on your credit reports. This will force a lender to contact you and verify your identity before it issues any credit in your name. All you have to do is contact one of the credit agencies and they will set up a free alert that will notify the other two as well. Fraud alerts last for 90 days and can be renewed.
You also want to check your bank and credit card statements in this time frame so that you can spot any suspicious charges over the past months (especially if you aren’t in the habit of monitoring your accounts); and don’t forget to take internet subscription inventory. What this means is checking where you have linked your bank accounts or credit cards and make a file of where each account is connected to out of your many services, such as Amazon, Netflix and so on. This will come in handy if you have to cancel any cards and it will make it easy for you to update your payment information without causing interruption to your services.
Last but not least, make sure you habitually check your accounts as general safe practice. This will help you spot anything suspicious that could happen later on and avoid finding out too late. Fraud and identity theft can cause a lot more damage than just monetary loss, so the more attentive you can be even when the Equifax breach hype blows over, the better it will be for you since these types of threats aren’t going away anytime soon.
For the business owner, if you haven’t had a security assessment to determine vulnerabilities and or just have a look at your overall network, please feel free to reach out. We’re here to help!
Photo courtesy of Brian A Jackson