Everyone can use a reminder of best practices since identity theft is constantly evolving. If you become a victim of a data breach, our Fraud Resolution SpecialistsTM are here to assist you. In the meantime, get proactive by following the steps below. They can help you make sure that both your finances and personal information are protected from further attacks.
Cancel any affected accounts. If you have an account with the affected company, you may want to consider canceling your potentially affected accounts. Although institutions may claim that they are monitoring your accounts, ultimately you could be held liable to dispute and clear fraudulent activity. It is best to be proactive.
Check your credit reports. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. You can access your credit score and credit report for free through your MSA member website.* If you’re not sure what to look for, talk to an MSA Money Coach: every MSA Money Coach is a Certified Credit Counselor.
Security Freeze: Placing a security freeze with the credit bureaus locks your credit, making it inaccessible to creditors. When you place a security freeze, the bureaus will send you a confirmation PIN number that will be used to life your freeze. We recommend only lifting the freeze temporarily when you need to use your credit. You can place and remove the freeze on the credit bureaus’ websites for free.
File an IRS Affidavit. Alert the IRS of your compromised information by filing out the IRS Affidavit.
Set up an account at SSA.gov. Setting up an account with the Social Security Administration allows you to monitor your annual earnings to ensure a fraudster is not using your SSN for employment purposes. Setting up the account with your verification credentials also ensures a fraudster doesn’t gain further access to your information. If you have a fraud alert or freeze on your credit report, you will not be able to set up an online account. You can call and request that annual statements be mailed to you.
Place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit file. A fraud alert notifies creditors that your information has been compromised and to call you to confirm your identity. If you place a fraud alert on your credit file with one bureau, they will alert the other two.
Place authentication features on financial accounts. Ask your bank to create account passwords or authentication questions that would be required to complete any transactions in person or over the phone. Fraudsters will often call financial institutions in an attempt to wire transfer funds, withdraw funds, order new cards or change your address.
DMV Alerts: While visiting the DMV, you can ask a representative to place a fraud alert on your driving record.
Chex Systems Alerts: You can place an alert with chexsystems.com to notify banks and financial institutions of your compromised information. This will help keep fraudsters from opening bank accounts in your name.
Beware of phishing emails. Once fraudsters gather identifying information, they usually send official-looking texts, emails or phone calls to gather more data. If you click on a link or respond to a text from an unfamiliar source, it may allow the fraudster to implant malware or viruses on your phone or computer. Never click on any links in emails or respond to unknown senders of text messages. If you receive something of concern that looks official, go to that business’s secure website to get the correct phone numbers to call and inquire about messages you have received.
Change all your passwords regularly. Smart account management should include complex passwords that are updated regularly. Consider making passwords on any financial accounts different than your email passwords.
Beware of phone scams. If you receive a call from a bill collector, creditor or credit agency soliciting you for money on a past due bill – asking to verify your identity for a recent application, or confirming account information – you need to validate the caller and any debts before paying. Hang up and locate the number for the entity before talking to anyone. There was a recent scam that involved fraudsters pretending to be the IRS and collecting thousands of dollars from victims that had their personal data compromised. Always confirm debts with creditors directly and remember that most of the time you should receive a letter in the mail before a phone call.
Need further assistance? As part of your financial wellness team, you may have access to a Fraud Resolution SpecialistTM. Call today to get started!
* This content is for informational purposes only and does not guarantee eligibility for the program or its services.
We all know that New Year’s means attempting to fulfill resolutions. This year, make a few resolutions that will have a lifelong impact: taking proactive steps to protect your identity from the very real threat of fraudsters and data breaches. Data breaches in 2015 exposed 175,681,126 records,1 and consumers have paid a total of 1.7 […]
Becoming a victim of identity theft can lead to ongoing financial consequences and major stress. In this day and age, it’s not a matter of if but when you become a victim. Take this moment to read how one victim was “immediately relieved” because of the smart steps she took – steps you can take […]
You see that plush couch with stylish pillows in the furniture store window. If you had it in your own home, you could sink into the soft cushions and take a refreshing nap after a long day’s work. Whether you wince at the price tag, or you know you have the reserves to make such […]