Protecting Yourself from Identity / Credit Card Theft, Part 2

Protecting Yourself from Identity / Credit Card Theft, Part 2

Gulf Shore Home Watch & Concierge

In our last blog post we talked about two common ways that thieves try to steal your personal information: phishing emails and credit card skimming devices.

But what happens if your personal information is stolen through no fault of your own?

Data breaches

If you follow the news, you’ve likely heard about the Marriot Hotels data breach. If you haven’t– we’ll take a minute to bring you up to speed.

In late 2018, the hotel chain reported that hackers had broken into their database and had stolen the personal details of nearly 500 million customers. The type of data that was stolen varied from person to person. In some cases, only their names and phone numbers were compromised. Others had their credit card numbers, passport numbers and other personal information stolen.

There’s also the matter of the Equifax breach.

In the summer of 2017, the credit reporting company reported that 143 million consumers’ addresses, birth dates and social security numbers were lost in an unprecedent hacking incident. They also reported that nearly 210,000 people’s credit card data had been exposed.

What to do if you’ve been impacted

If you think your information has been stolen in a data breach, the best way to protect yourself is to contact the three major credit bureaus and ask them to place a fraud alert on your account. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion allow you to do this online or over the phone.

Fraud alerts notify companies that are being asked to extend you a line of credit that you’ve been a victim of identity theft and/or fraud. It puts a “red flag” on your account that encourages them to take extra steps to verify your identity before an account is opened.

You can ask for a one-year or seven-year alert to be placed on your account.

At the same time, you’ll want to remember that while this can help prevent thieves from opening new accounts in your name, it won’t protect you from having them run up charges on existing charge accounts. If you think your credit card numbers have been compromised in any way, it’s best to contact your bank immediately to ask them to issue a new debit or credit card.

In closing

Although preventing all instances of identity / credit card theft may be impossible, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk. Being careful and cautious with your information, and monitoring your credit accounts slowly are things that everyone should do.