Oh no, not again! Home-improvement giant, Home Depot stated it was currently investigating a possible breach involving “unusual activity that might indicate a possible payment data breach”. This is the latest, in several data breaches, affecting some of the nation’s largest retailers. While we are still unclear as to the extent of this latest breach, one thing is for certain: you can never take too many precautions to help protect your identity!
Below are steps and recommendations that may help to protect you from potential misuse of your credit and debit information.
You should remain vigilant for incidents of fraud and identity theft by regularly reviewing your account statements and monitoring free credit reports.
Step 1. Contact your credit/debit card holders of a potential breach
Step 2. Obtain a copy of your credit report to review for any suspicious activity. If you discover any suspicious or unusual activity on your accounts or suspect fraud, be sure to report it immediately to your financial institutions
You may also periodically obtain credit reports from each nationwide credit reporting agency. If you discover information on your credit report arising from a fraudulent transaction, you should request that the credit reporting agency delete that information from your credit report file. In addition, under federal law, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. You may obtain a free copy of your credit report by going to www.AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling (877) 322-8228. You may contact the nationwide credit reporting agencies at:Equifax
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
P.O. Box 9532
Allen, TX 75013
Transunion (Fraud Victim Assistance Division)
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
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Step 3. Add a fraud alert to your credit report file to help protect your credit information. A fraud alert can make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect you, but it also may delay your ability to obtain credit. You may place a fraud alert in your file by calling just one of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies listed above. As soon as that agency processes your fraud alert, it will notify the other two agencies, which then must also place fraud alerts in your file.
Step 4. Place a Security Freeze on your credit report. This will prohibit a credit reporting agency from releasing information from your credit report without your prior written authorization.
If you have been a victim of identity theft and you provide the credit reporting agency with a valid police report, it cannot charge you to place, lift or remove a security freeze. In all other cases, a credit reporting agency may charge you up to $5.00 each to place, temporarily lift, or permanently remove a security freeze. To place a security freeze on your credit report, you must send a written request to each of the three major consumer reporting agencies listed above.
In order to request a security freeze, you will need to provide the following information:
- Your full name (including middle initial as well as Jr., Sr., II, III, etc.);
- Social Security number;
- Date of birth;
- If you have moved in the past five (5) years, the addresses where you have lived over the prior five years;
- Proof of current address (e.g., a current utility bill or telephone bill);
- A legible photocopy of a government issued identification card (e.g., state driver’s license or ID card or military identification);
- If you are a victim of identity theft, a copy of either the police report, investigative report, or complaint to a law enforcement agency concerning identity theft;
- If you are not a victim of identity theft, payment by check, money order, or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover only). Do not send cash through the mail.
The credit reporting agencies have three (3) business days after receiving your request to place a security freeze on your credit report. The credit reporting agencies must also send written confirmation to you within five (5) business days and provide you with a unique personal identification number (PIN) or password, or both that can be used by you to authorize the removal or lifting of the security freeze.
To lift the security freeze in order to allow a specific entity or individual access to your credit report, you must call or send a written request to the credit reporting agencies by mail and include proper identification (name, address, and Social Security number) and the PIN number or password provided to you when you placed the security freeze, as well as the identities of those entities or individuals you would like to receive your credit report or the specific period of time you want the credit report available. The credit reporting agencies have three (3) business days after receiving your request to lift the security freeze for those identified entities or for the specified period of time
To remove the security freeze, you must send a written request to each of the three credit reporting agencies by mail and include proper identification (name, address, and Social Security number) and the PIN number or password provided to you when you placed the security freeze. The credit reporting agencies have three (3) business days after receiving your request to remove the security freeze.
Identity theft is the fastest growing white collar crime. The best defense against it is Knowledge. Educate yourself on protective practices to help ensure your credit and identity is kept safe and secure.