The recent security breach at Equifax may have you asking, “Is my personal information safe anywhere?”
Unfortunately, if you were among those affected, the Equifax deed is done. But there are steps to take to protect yourself in the future.
Though the story is in the media glare right now, it soon will slip from the headlines and you may forget about it too.
So putting a credit freeze in place right away is one important step.
It seals your credit report so that scammers can’t establish credit in your name. It also reduces the risk of identity theft.
Contact each credit reporting agency separately to establish a freeze.
When you do need to apply for credit for a loan or a mortgage, for example, you can temporarily “thaw” your information to give creditors access to your report.
Check out the Federal Trade Commission to learn more about credit freezes.
Know the subtle signs of identity theft. According to the FTC, these are some indications that you may have been victimized.
• You see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain.
• You don’t get your bills or other mail.
• Debt collectors call about debts that aren’t yours.
• You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
• Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.
And while you’re thinking about scams, you may want to take steps to secure your home, since another growing scam involves property fraud.
Some fraudsters place liens against a house or file forged ownership documents to take ownership of a property — often mortgage-free homes that are owned by seniors.
Counties have responded by creating free property fraud alerts that let you know whenever a document is recorded against your property.
For more information, get in touch with the recorder of deeds where your property is located to see whether it has a fraud alert system in place.