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My Personal Information Was Stolen Online; Now What?!

October 19, 2017

With access to technology at the tip of our fingers and the desire to have constant access to information, we’re constantly looking for ways to connect, download, access, and retrieve information. Fortunately, access to the internet has fulfilled this need. Unfortunately, it also comes with major risks.

It used to be that our personal, medical, and financial information were tough to access without the right credentials. Today, with all of that information being transmitted over the internet, it becomes much riskier. We trust that companies have the right security standards in place that will prevent hackers from accessing our private information. Unfortunately, we can’t be 100% sure.

In recent years, we’ve heard a number of well-known companies admit their digital security lacked updates creating a breakdown that has allowed hackers to steal the information of millions of people all of the over world. So, what do you do when you think your personal information has been compromised?

Let’s take a look at some ways to protect yourself now and in the future.

  • Do your own investigating
    If you think your information has been compromised, check your bank accounts, credit cards, credit files, and any other financial information you have. Make sure there aren’t any suspicious charges or changes made to your accounts. If you find suspicious activity, contact the financial institution and report it immediately. You should also instruct the institution not to authorize any other charges made to that account.

  • Freeze your credit immediately
    If you believe you have been the victim of identity theft, you should freeze your credit immediately with the 3 major credit bureaus - Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. By freezing your credit, you will prevent the identity thief from opening any new accounts in your name.

  • Report your claim to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
    By reporting the fraud to the FTC, you have legal record of the identity theft.

  • File a police report
    Once you have placed a freeze on your credit, file a police report. Be sure to get a copy of the report in case you are asked to provide it to your bank or other creditors.

  • Review your credit report
    To make sure no other suspicious activity has happened on your credit report prior to finding out about your identity theft, you should request a copy of your report.

  • File your taxes early
    After a data breach or an instance of identity theft, a hacker may take the opportunity to file a tax return in your name and steal your tax refund. Once you receive all the relevant information, file as soon as possible!

Equifax Data Breach

The biggest news right now regarding data breaches is the Equifax data breach. Between May and July 2017, hackers are thought to have stolen the personal information of nearly 2.5 million people. In order to mitigate the problem and help its consumers, Equifax has an online form that allows you to check to see if your information was compromised.

Even if you weren’t impacted by the Equifax breach, the company is offering 1 year of free credit monitoring to anyone who signs up.

Federal and State Resources

The FTC wants to help you protect your identity online. For information on different types of identity theft and what to do when you’re identity has been compromised, check out the FTC’s Identity Theft Recovery Steps for how to recover your identity and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

The Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Unit also has general tips on identity theft, information on income tax identity theft, and tips for internet password safety.

Chelsea Stephens

About the Author

Chelsea Stephens is the Marketing & Training Lead for Digital Services Georgia. A Georgia native herself, Chelsea enjoys writing on topics that citizens and visitors of Georgia can enjoy and learn from. 

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