Data Breach Advice

Did you recently get a notice that says your personal information was exposed in a data breach? Did you lose your wallet? Or learn that an online account was hacked? Depending on what information was lost, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself from identity theft.

  • Be extra careful about emails and attachments.  Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails that claim to be updates from 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. Credit reports are available for free, from each of the three national credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — every 12 months from http://www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Some monitoring services and credit card companies now allow you unlimited access to credit information, so you could theoretically check every day. 

    What to do if you suspect credit card fraud. Call the bank or financial institution that issued your card immediately. Your issuer may want to cancel your current card and issue you a new one. Check with your issuer to verify that your mailing address has not been changed.

    If you still have your card but fraudulent purchases have been made, call your issuer to report the fraud and request a new card. Also, contact the credit bureaus to let them know that fraud has occurred. A "Fraud Alert" message will be placed on your file. You should also request a copy of your credit report and review it carefully. Learn More

What information was lost or exposed?

  • If a company responsible for exposing your information offers you free credit monitoring, take advantage of it.
  • Get your free credit reports from annualcreditreport.com . Check for any accounts or charges you don’t recognize.
  • Consider placing a credit freeze . A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name.
    • If you place a freeze, be ready to take a few extra steps the next time you apply for a new credit card or cell phone – or any service that requires a credit check.
    • If you decide not to place a credit freeze, at least consider placing a fraud alert .
  • Try to file your taxes early — before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.
  • Don’t believe anyone who calls and says you’ll be arrested unless you pay for taxes or debt — even if they have part or all of your Social Security number, or they say they’re from the IRS.
  • Continue to check your credit reports at annualcreditreport.com . You can order a free report from each of the three credit reporting companies once a year.
  • Log in to that account and change your password. If possible, also change your username.
    • If you can’t log in, contact the company. Ask them how you can recover or shut down the account.
  • If you use the same password anywhere else, change that, too. Learn more about password here
  • Is it a financial site, or is your credit card number stored? Check your account for any charges that you don’t recognize.
  • Contact your bank or credit card company to cancel your card and request a new one.
  • Review your transactions regularly. Make sure no one misused your card.
    • If you find fraudulent charges, call the fraud department and get them removed.
  • If you have automatic payments set up, update them with your new card number.
  • Check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com .
  • Contact your bank to close the account and open a new one.
  • Review your transactions regularly to make sure no one misused your account.
    • If you find fraudulent charges or withdrawals, call the fraud department and get them removed.
  • If you have automatic payments set up, update them with your new bank account information.
  • Check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com .
  • Contact your nearest motor vehicles branch to report a lost or stolen driver’s license. The state might flag your license number in case someone else tries to use it, or they might suggest that you apply for a duplicate.
  • Check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com .
  • Request a credit freeze for your child — if this service is available in your state . A credit freeze will make it difficult for someone to use your child’s information to open accounts. To place a freeze, follow the specific instructions for each credit bureau:
    • Equifax
    • Experian
    • Transunion
  • No matter what state you live in, you can check to see if your child has a credit report. Each bureau has specific instructions for these requests:
    • Equifax
    • Experian
    • Transunion
  • If a credit bureau has a credit report for your child, the credit bureau will send you a copy of the report. Use the instructions provided with the credit report to remove fraudulent accounts.
  • Review the FTC's information on Child Identity Theft .