In today’s world of electronic information being so accessible, the Equifax data breach may be more than just a headache for some, it has the potential to put half of all American credit card holders at risk. Before you think you are covered by your credit card company for any charges you don’t make so you shouldn’t be worried, it can be a bigger issue than just your credit card information. These days, with just a few key pieces of information, thieves can do a lot of damage to your credit and your finances.
By now, most all Americans have heard about the Equifax data breach and seen the news clips of what it may mean to your credit. But something you may not know is that because of that breach, thieves can purchase your social security number and birth date and can do more damage than you realize. With that information, a thief can not only take out loans and credit cards in your name, they also have the ability to access your bank accounts and access your tax return deposits.
So you think, no big deal, you are not legally liable for a credit card you didn’t open in your name. Well, true, however it can take a lot of time to clear up what a thief can do to your credit reporting. What about hiring an insurance company to keep an eye on your credit reporting and clear up any discrepancies or charges that are not yours? Yes, you can have that too, however there is a monthly fee you need to pay for that service as well and you will still have to deal with the insurance company to clear up any illegal activity on your account.
So what is the best solution to keep you protected? You work hard for your money, and these days with apps and on-line purchases, it’s easier than ever to be targeted by a criminal out to steal from you. Here are some tips you can use to keep you protected and protected your finances from being vulnerable.
- Check your credit score for free. This is probably the easiest thing you can do to keep your credit history clean. Generally, your credit score may fluctuate or unfamiliar activity may be present in your credit report if you have been victimized. Set it on your calendar, once a year, to pull your credit report. A simple review can ensure that there are no issues that need to be addressed. You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. You can order your credit report on-line at annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
- Inform the credit card companies that you want your name on fraud alert. Transunion.com allows you to create an on-line account where you can manually place a fraud alert on your financial information. What’s great about this feature is that not only can the alert be removed at any time, but the dates in which you set the alert can be adjusted. When you place the alert, Trans Union will then notify the other two reporting agencies (Equifax and Experian) regarding said alert.
- Sign up to be alerted of any changes to your account. This tool is essential because you can be informed each time a charge, that exceeds a specific dollar amount that you choose, is made on your account. It’s totally customizable!
- Take the initiative to protect your tax refund. Filing a tax return in a timely manner is a pivotal step in securing your tax refund. If you file early you take the opportunity away from a thief to file a fake return with your stolen information and access the funds therefrom. Don’t procrastinate!
Overall, the Equifax breach should be a wake-up call. Do not ignore the recent events as you could possibly become a victim of identity theft or credit card fraud. Take matters into your own hands to secure your financial identity by using the tips posted in this blog!