Experts recommend placing a fraud alert on your account to make it slightly more difficult for scammers to use your stolen information. But it’s more of a bandaid than a foolproof security system—while some agencies may ask a few personal questions to double-check your identity after they see the alert, others simply won’t. So make sure you take further action to safeguard your information.
Make Sure Your Credit Is Secure
While the spotlight has moved off of Equifax, it’s important to remember that this breach affected a reported 143 million people—and not only could hackers steal data on changeable things like your credit card info, they also had access to some Social Security numbers.
That’s why it’s important to be proactive when it comes to protecting your online security. Put credit freezes on all three of your credit reports. Yes, this costs money to unfreeze (typically $3 to $10, though the exact price depends on the state you live in), but given the long-term costs and headaches of remedying a stolen identity, it’s worth the price.
If you haven’t already done so, request a credit report from the three major agencies to check for any discrepancies. You can also sign up for a credit monitoring service. You’ll have to research which is best for you, but essentially these services track credit activity tied to your name.
Look Beyond Your Credit Report
Because the scammers also had access to Social Security numbers, they could do damage that may not appear on your credit report (or won’t appear right away). Theoretically, scammers could: steal your Social Security benefits or tax return, open utility accounts in your name, take out payday loans, commit insurance fraud, access your Medicare benefits, and access your 401(k) or other investments.
That’s why some experts say to consider identity theft protection services, which can also track loan applications and illegal activity on the dark web. You’ll want to keep an eye on your bank accounts and investments.
And be aware that there’s no deadline for scammers to use the information they stole. Safeguarding your identity should now be a routine part of your life.