Imagine opening a letter from your healthcare provider, local government agency or credit card issuer alerting you that a data breach has exposed your personal information. The notification is bound to cause shock and concern, but it was sent to you as a result of federal and state data breach notification laws that require organizations to notify any person who may be affected by a breach.
How quickly you respond may ultimately decide the short-term, perhaps even the long-term, health of your credit. Once you’ve been informed of a security breach, it’s important to take the right actions since data breaches can lead to identity theft.
Take the following essential steps:
Immediately contact the company who informed you of the breach. They may be able to provide helpful information about risks and possible remedies. Ask if any identity protection policies are put in place for victims. Help them to understand that providing a solution for you can go a long way in repairing their brand identity in your mind.
Notify one of the three major credit reporting bureaus. Request they add a credit fraud protection alert to your credit report. This will help prevent unauthorized lines of credit from being requested in your name.
Request a copy of your credit report from the credit bureaus. The credit bureaus should be notified immediately if you find any signs of identity theft. There are additional steps you can take if you find allegedly fraudulent activity on your credit report. Make sure that you keep detailed records of all your interactions and correspondence.
Get in the habit, if not already, of monitoring your credit report on a frequent basis. The reason is that identity thieves, in order to avoid immediate detection, may decide to use the information at a later date.
This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.