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5 Steps to Protect Your Identity When It's Compromised

5 Steps to Protect Yourself When Your Identity is Compromised

October 28, 2014

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. Even our largest retailers are not immune to the risks of using credit and debit card machines. So what should you do when you think your identity may have been exposed? Farm Bureau Financial Services offers tips to help you keep your information safe.

  1. Keep a careful watch over your accounts. It seems like a no-brainer, but once they have your personal information, identity criminals can use it any time, even 6 months or more after your information breach. Knowing how much you’ve spent, and where, can help you trace back to see if your card may have been exposed. Suspicious charges can be both large and small as sometimes ID thieves make small purchases to verify the account is valid.

  2. Cancel the exposed card(s). If you know a certain credit or debit account has been exposed, cancel and replace the card and set up a new PIN to reduce the risk of fraudulent charges on the account. Don’t forget to provide new information to companies or service providers with whom you have automatic payments set up.

  3. Order and review your credit reports. This will help you ensure no one has opened a new account in your name. The three credit agencies – TransUnion, Equifax and Experian – are required to give you one free credit report apiece each year.

  4. Consider placing an initial fraud alert. It takes just one call to one of the three credit reporting agencies to establish a free 90-day fraud alert on your credit report. This alert makes it harder for a thief to open new accounts in your name because businesses go to extra lengths to verify your identity before issuing new credit.

  5. Enroll in an identity theft prevention program. Quick detection and rapid response can reduce your risk of identity theft. With ID theft protection and credit monitoring, you’ll receive notifications of key changes to your account that could indicate fraud. Plus, you’ll often have access to a fraud specialist who can help you resolve ID fraud issues and help you recover.