Another day, another announcement about a data breach.
As news trickles out about retailers that have been hacked, you may be wondering what you can do to protect yourself from fraud. Even if you’re not sure that your accounts have been affected, you can do a few things to protect your accounts, your money, and your credit reputation.
Review your credit card and bank account statements often. If you see charges that you don’t recognize, contact your bank or credit card provider right away. Ask to speak to the fraud department.
If you’re going to be traveling, you’ll want to contact your credit or debit card issuer about that, too. Otherwise, the fraud department may disable your account when they see charges from outside your normal area.
Check your credit reports — for free — every few months. Federal law requires each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to give you a free copy of your credit report every 12 months if you ask for it.
Your credit report includes information about your credit card accounts and other bills you pay, so it’s a good way to find out if someone has opened credit in your name. To get your report, visitAnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
If you find errors in your report, take steps to correct them.
Be aware of phishing scams. Delete email or text messages that ask you to confirm or provide personal information (credit card and bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, passwords, etc.). Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via email or text.
Finally, it’s a good idea to know the warning signs of identity theft.