Data hacks can leave you vulnerable to cybercriminals. Laura covers 8 warning signs to watch for and how to fight back if you become a victim of identity theft. Plus, she answers questions on a variety of topics including protecting kids’ credit, signing up for credit monitoring, and placing security alerts on your credit files.
More Tips to Stay Safe After the Equifax Data Breach
Here are a few more questions I received that may help you stay safe in the wake of the Equifax data breach.
Question: J. Johnson says, “Today I’m placing fraud alerts on my credit files. Consumer Reports says we should also contact a company called Innovis. Is that an action you also recommend?”
Answer: Thanks, J. I do think it’s worthwhile. Most people have heard of the three nationwide credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Innovis is a fourth, minor agency that’s been around since the 1970s. Through multiple acquisitions, it’s had a variety of names including ACB (Associated Credit Bureaus) Services, Consumers Credit Associates (CCA), and CBC Companies.
You can check your Innovis report and place an alert or freeze at innovis.com. Just like with the three major bureaus, you can get a free copy of your credit file from Innovis once a year—but they’re not on the official reporting site, annualcreditreport.com.
Innovis doesn’t give you an option to view your report online (like you can with the other agencies). You must submit a request to have a paper copy mailed to you.
Question: Justin asks, “Should I sign up for Equifax’s free credit monitoring?”
Answer: Equifax is offering TrustedID Premier, a free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection to all U.S. consumers regardless of whether their data was stolen. It includes 3-bureau monitoring, copies of Equifax credit reports, the ability to lock and unlock Equifax reports, identity theft insurance, and Internet scanning for Social Security number.
I did sign up for Equifax’s service; however, it’s far from foolproof. If you enroll, please don’t become complacent about watching out for the warning signs I’ve covered here, or anything else that seems suspicious.
As I mentioned in my previous post, credit monitoring services offer a thin line of defense against a small percentage of possible identity crimes.
Question: Lyndi says, “Thanks for your Equifax podcast. I shared it with all my friends who were confused about what to do. Recently I got married and legally changed my name with the Social Security Administration and the state. I checked both on Equifax’s security website, which says my maiden name was potentially impacted and my married name was not. Should I worry about this?”
Answer: Congratulations on your recent wedding, Lyndi! Since your credit is linked to your Social Security number, you should only have one file at each of the credit bureaus, even after a name change.
So, I would assume that your data has been compromised and stay alert for any red flags that I covered here and in my previous post.
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