Data breaches have affected our lives on multiple levels. For example, there have been credit card breaches from major retail stores like Target and Home Depot; to most recently the Equifax cybersecurity breach which compromised the personal information to over 143 million American consumers. A stolen identity may be used to hijack existing bank accounts, obtain new credit or other services, conceal a criminal past, file fraudulent taxes, and even vote.
What actions can I take to help protect my account and identity?
- Monitor your financial institution activity online or through statements for unauthorized transactions on a regular, frequent basis. If they occur, notify the appropriate financial institution immediately. Also check credit card statements on a regular basis.
- Visit www.identitytheft.gov for resources on identity theft, freezing your credit report, and steps to take with the three different credit bureaus to dispute any unauthorized entries.
- Place a fraud alert with any of the three credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The benefit of the fraud alert is it alerts potential creditors or lenders to take extra steps to identify you. You need to contact only one credit bureau to place an identity theft freeze and they are required to notify the other two credit bureaus.
- Pull your credit report yearly online at https://www.annualcreditreport.com. Upon review, if you find unauthorized activity notify the applicable financial institution or other agency immediately!
- Be Skeptical about unsolicited email and telephone calls offering information or assistance related to the Equifax breach. Generally, there is an increase in scam attempts associated with these types of breaches.
- Pay attention to calls or mail, communication that you are not expecting from lenders, the IRS or even an debt collector, may be a sign that you have been a victim of identity theft. If this happens, contact the creditor or IRS immediately.
- If you currently have Safeguard checking with PSFCU make sure you enroll in ID Protect, Identity Theft Monitoring and Resolution Service free with Safeguard checking account.
- Install our PSFCU mobile app and Card Valet to be able to monitor your account more frequently, set up alerts for your transactions and if you feel your debit card has been compromised over the weekend you can shut it down yourself and inform us the next business day.