You Don’t Need to Worry About Identity Theft, It Will Never Happen to You. It’s probably going to be just fine. Here’s why that is a load of BS.
What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You
The largest data breach in U.S. History happened in 2017. The Equifax data breach impacted 148 million people, and counting. In fact, the total number of affected by the breach may never be known. Equifax thought it was too big to fail. Equifax was wrong and showed even big organizations fail to maintain basic security. So do you.
Fast forward to 2018. Facebook, too big to fail right? WRONG. The 87 million people impacted by the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica data disaster say otherwise.
Your data is out there. It is compromised and you should care, because your data is a roadmap to your MONEY. If you care about nothing else, think about the impact to your bank account and bottom line, not to mention the damage your credit, your business, your reputation, your life.
Cyber Thieves Don’t Discriminate
Identity thieves don’t discriminate about the data they steal. Everyone is a target, including you. Hoping your data won’t get stolen is no protection against data thieves; Just like hoping that you don’t have a car wreck, is no protection against getting rear-ended. No matter how much you hope, you still need to buy an insurance policy.
Your Personal Information
If your identity was stolen as a part of the Equifax, Uber, Panera Bread, or Facebook data breach/leak (to name a few), a criminal can use your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to open bank accounts, credit cards, file taxes in your name, or even take out student loans, without your knowledge. Your very reputation is now at risk, as a result of a data breach.
Your Action Plan
So what can you do about it? You can place a 90-day fraud alert with all three credit bureaus, Transunion, Equifax (the irony) and Experian. Notifying the credit agencies won’t necessarily notify all your institutions, however it will red flag any suspicious transactions, such as attempts to open new bank accounts or lines of credit. Call your individual banks and credit card companies to also place 90-day fraud alerts on those accounts as well.
Additionally, order a free copy of your credit report from the three credit reporting agencies, and continue to monitor your accounts. Looking over your bank and credit cards statements monthly can prevent additional fraud, especially if you’re on top of the transactions and your cash flow. Don’t assume credit reporting agencies can protect your information better than you can.
What About Freezing Credit?
In addition to fraud alerts, consider freezing your credit. By freezing your credit with all three credit bureaus, Transunion, Equifax and Experian, no new accounts or lines of credit can be opened in your name, until you unfreeze your credit. Freezing your credit does not/not prevent your current accounts from being used by identity thieves, nor does it protect you from tax fraud (someone filing taxes in your name).
Have a Plan
The best way to combat identity thieves is with a plan. If you have a plan, you take back control of your identity, and go to bed feeling safe at night, even if your information was compromised.
Start simple, acknowledge identity theft occurred, and shift to making a plan to combat the problem. Report your identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), at IdentityTheft.gov, get a to-do list based on your type of identity theft, and go through that list step-by-step. It takes some patience, but following through will save you money, time, and your sanity.
See below for a quick video on the IdentityTheft.gov website, hosted by the FTC, what it is and how it can help you make a plan to combat your type of identity theft.