Many more Americans are now concerned with their identity being stolen following the major security breach at Equifax. Over 143 million people have had sensitive personal information exposed, and this is just one of many recent hacking incidents. Social Security numbers can easily be taken from any document in your mailbox, trash can, or by someone who poses as a representative of an institution you trust. So if this happens to you, here are a few things you can do to set records straight and cover tracks.
Ask The Credit Bureaus to Freeze Your Credit
A credit freeze will not affect your credit score but it will prevent lenders from accessing your account and using it to open new accounts, rent apartments, or apply for loans. If you need one of these things then you can temporarily suspend the credit freeze until that time has passed. You can also request an extended fraud alert which lasts up to seven years. Below are links and toll-free numbers to the major credit bureaus:
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742; www.experian.com
Report to Responsible Government Agencies
The Social Security Administration directs you to IdentityTheft.gov for more information. Also, you can file a police report with your local jurisdiction if this crime occurs in the city or county that’s nearest to you, even if they aren’t able to investigate it themselves. Having a police report is an essential document when trying to recover from identity theft.
Contact The Fraud Department of Source
If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, notify the company you’ve been frauded on and follow their guidance on changing all login and password information. Although, it may be necessary to request a new social security number from the Social Security Administration even though it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You first have to follow these steps:
- You will need to provide evidence that your social security number has been used for committing identity theft
- Prove that you suffered harm because of such activities occurring without notification or consent on your part
- Show proof of having done everything possible in order to catch the thief.
Get Monitored Identity Theft Services
With these services, you’ll be able to have notifications about any suspicious activity regarding your sensitive information. All people should consider identity protection services because they can provide the help necessary if someone has stolen your information. These services monitor your personal information, credit files, and the web for suspicious and fraudulent activity to let you know about it. They also contact banks and creditors on behalf of their clients when there’s a need to restore an identity that was violated by fraud or theft.
Choosing the Right Identity Theft Service for You
Choosing the right identity theft protection service is determined by three key elements: alerts, monitoring, and restoration. First, determine how many people and devices you want to be covered as well as what types of monitoring you will need. Some can make do with just basic level services while others might require specialized services such as social media or investment monitoring as well. Your ID theft protection should also have a solid restoration package in case your identity gets stolen and this would include reimbursement for lost funds, personal expense compensation, and lawyer coverage.
Furthermore, regardless if you have good or bad credit, once there is an instance where someone applies for a new social security number just to clear off mistakes they have made on their report (with errors found in previous years), then one’s old SSN becomes invalidated. If you think that your Social Security number has been compromised but aren’t sure if it’s been used to commit fraud, there are less extreme measures than canceling and replacing all of your original credit cards. For example, any company responsible for a data breach will usually offer a form of free credit monitoring to those who have been affected. Also, Discover offers its customers a free service that notifies them when their SSN appears on websites where criminals sell and buy personal information, much like the dark web.