Once you’ve locked down your other accounts, it’s time to start trying to recover the ones you may have lost control of. Many commonly used services offer a suite of tools to help you verify your identity and regain access to your accounts, but some make it easier than others. Here’s how recovery works on some of the services you might be using.
The company will let you verify yourself by contacting other devices connected to that account. On Android phones, that means you’ll get a notification that you can tap “yes” on to prove you’re the account owner. If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, Google makes that verification message available in the Gmail app. If none of that works, Google will send a recovery email to a backup email address if you’ve specified one in the past. To start, click here
If someone has taken control of your Apple ID, start by visiting iforgot.apple.com
. From there, Apple will ask you to verify your phone number and then sends notifications to your other Apple devices to help you reset your password — but only after you’ve confirmed your identity by punching in your Mac’s password, or your iPad’s or iPhone’s passcode.
Amazon: To start
, Amazon will attempt to confirm your identity by sending a verification code to your phone. If that isn’t an option — say, if someone else has control of your phone number - your best bet is to call Amazon customer service. As part of the process, you may be asked to upload a scan of your driver’s license, state ID card, or voter registration card to verify your identity.
Visit the company’s account recovery site
and type in the email address associated with your Microsoft account. You’ll be prompted to give Microsoft an account recovery code if you’ve already made one; if not you’ll have to fill out a short form that — among other things — asks you to provide an alternate email you have access to. From there, the company will send a four-digit code to that email address. Once you’ve verified the code, you’ll fill out another short form to start the recovery process.
- Reconcile or balance your bank account every month. The beauty of online accounts is that you can monitor them almost in real time. That means you can catch crooks long before a statement arrives in the mail. Learn more
- File your taxes promptly. While thieves may use stolen information to create fraudulent bank accounts, they may also use it to file fraudulent tax returns. File your taxes as soon as you have the tax information you need and respond promptly to letters sent to you by the IRS. Note that the IRS will never communicate with you via email, so watch out for this type of fraud and don’t open emails purporting to be from the IRS.
- Be extra careful about emails and attachments. Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails that claim to be updated by any company connected to a data breach. Learn More
- Use Two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication adds a second level of authentication to an account log-in. When you have to enter only your username and one password, that's considered a single-factor authentication. 2FA requires the user to have two out of three types of credentials before being able to access an account. Learn More
- Check your Credit Cards accounts often. Reviewing your recent account activity is fundamental to credit card safety—and it’s easy. You can do it online or by phone. If your credit card issuer offers email or text alerts about unusual activity, sign up to receive them.
- Monitor credit reports. Check your credit report for any accounts that crooks may have opened in your name. Some monitoring services and credit card companies now allow you unlimited access to credit information, so you could theoretically check every day.
Data breaches will help phishers trick you.
The likelihood that your personal identification is in the hands of criminals increases with every new data breach. Data breach information goes way beyond just login credentials and credit card numbers. Here are all the types of personal identification information that can be stolen during a data breach:
- Social Security Numbers.
- Date of Birth.
- Credit Card Numbers.
- Telephone Numbers.
- Public records of criminal and civil cases.
- Your credit history (current and previous loans, credit cards, credit card balances & utilities).
- Transaction history and length of accounts.
- Bankruptcy filings.
- Companies with which you have an existing or prior relationship.
- Your medical information or payments.
- Driver's license number and driving records.
- Work Records.
- Current & previous addresses, and property ownership.
- Voter registration.
- Professional licenses.
- Family, relatives, and neighbors.
- Car, homeowners, and renters insurance claims.
Data breaches may not play out for a really long time as hackers might not use stolen data right away. The following suggestions should become habits that last well into the future. This way if hackers are sitting on your information to use it in the future, you'll know.
What to do:
Order specialty free reports outside of the big three credit reporting agencies. Specialty reporting companies may disclose information that can help prevent fraudulent accounts and other identity theft crimes:LexisNexis Full File Disclosure.
It’s one of the more comprehensive databases out there, containing all the information LexisNexis gathers to create its various reports about you. And, like credit reports, you can order one free copy per year. Please visit: https://personalreports.lexisnexis.com/access_your_full_file_disclosure.jspComplete List:
For a complete list, please visit the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau at: https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201604_cfpb_list-of-consumer-reporting-companies.pdf