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What to Do if Your Personal Data is Compromised

Laurie A. Ball
Audit Director

What to Do if Your Personal Data is Compromised

I’m sure you’ve heard about the Equifax data breach that was announced on September 7, 2017 and continues to be in the news. As of October 2, 2017, the personal information of 145.5 million people has been compromised. The hack was so large, it is estimated that nearly half of all Americans had their personal data – including Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses – accessed or stolen. So what does that mean for the unlucky victims? Well, it is estimated identity victims spend an average of 40 hours cleaning up the mess of a personal credit attack. As many whom have fallen victim previously can testify, stating it is a hassle is an understatement. So what do you do if your personal data is compromised? Following the steps below can help reduce your risk:

Do:

  1. Freeze your credit. This is especially important if you are in the process or looking to be in the process of buying a home, car, or refinancing.
  2. Enroll in a credit monitoring service. There are many options out there such as LifeLock, Experian Identity Works or ProtectMyID ; or you may utilize a free service such as Credit Karma or Credit Sesame.
  3. Be diligent in checking credit card usage and bank statements. It is important to monitor activity on a daily basis as the sooner you notice suspicious activity you can freeze your account before additional harm can be done.
  4. Set spending limits on accounts. You can call your bank or credit card company to set spending limits so transactions over a certain amount requires your authorization through a series of security questions.
  5. Call fraud department for credit cards, banks, etc. to alert them about possible fraudulent activity.  If you notice suspicious activity or realize you are a victim of a data breach, you should notify your bank and/or creditor as soon as possible to alert them of possible fraud. Also, advisable to change all of your passwords for online accounts.

Do Not:

  1. Change your Social Security number. While you may believe this is the best option to protect yourself, your old number actually follows you with your new number, defeating the purpose.
  2. Close all credit card accounts. Keep them open! If you close your credit accounts, you lose the length of time the account was open, which positively affects your credit report. Instead, simply request a new card with a new card number be issued to you.

Unfortunately, having your data compromised is an all too familiar fact of life. Luckily, there are many resources readily available to help you get back on track. Stay in touch with your accountant during a breach as it may affect your taxes and additional parties may need to be notified. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or visit the Federal Trade Commission website specializing in identity theft.

 


PKC Kuebler, APC is a full-service public accounting firm registered and licensed to practice as an accountancy corporation by the California Board of Accountancy. The information provided is intended for general tax and accounting needs. Articles are written for informational purposes only and should not be seen as any kind of advice. Content is accurate and true to the best of our knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes and it is advised you contact your CPA before taking any financial action. The opinions expressed in our articles do not reflect the opinions of any organizations in which we are affiliated with.

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