Look before you click on an email with an attachment
If you believe your information to be compromised it is important to take all the appropriate steps to ensure your finances are protected. Having any bank card which may be associated with the breech of information closed and a new one issued (as well as being sure the bank is aware of the situation) is the #1 best thing to do. You should log into any accounts which may have had personal, financial and/or the log-in information itself stolen. Double check that nothing seems unusual, and be sure to update your passwords/log-in information right away. If any credit/debit cards associated with an account which may have been compromised are on file with that account (even past payment information which may have since been updated) then those banks should be contacted, notified of the situation, and the cards reissued with new numbers.
* If any personal information may have been compromised you will want to be sure to place fraud alerts with the credit bureaus.
Although the bureaus are competitors and do not typically share information with one another, a fraud alert placed with one bureau will automatically prompt that bureau to notify the other two. Here is the contact information for each bureau (although you only need to follow the steps to place a fraud alert with one bureau it does not hurt to place an alert directly with all three):
* If Social Security information may have been compromised it certainly cannot hurt to notify the IRS as well.
Regarding a proactive approach to handling a stolen social security number the IRS lists the following information:
* Regarding contacting the social security office:
You will find social security information on their website at http://www.ssa.gov/ and they had this to say regarding identity theft…
“Identity Theft: If someone uses your Social Security number to obtain credit, loans, telephone accounts, or other goods and services, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC collects complaints about identity theft from those whose identities have been stolen.” They didn’t seem to have any other links regarding concerns about a social security number being vulnerable and thus potentially used.
There is some additional listed information if you believe someone is using your social security number…
Consistently, every agency recommends placing a fraud alert with the credit bureaus. If any fraud does occur you will want to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, a police report, and any other appropriate agency depending on what fraud has occurred. The banks and credit bureaus seem to be the only agencies which can make a note of stolen information and be proactive. Everyone else seems to want the details after identity theft has occurred.
Whether you are working with The Credit Guru or not, we also strongly recommend signing up for a monthly credit monitoring service. Such services will notify you immediately when there are changes to your credit file including new accounts opened. If a company such as a bank, creditor or retailer are at fault for the compromised information you may also be eligible for free monitoring for a year.
If you are a client working with The Credit Guru please also be sure to notify us any time you believe your information has been compromised. We will note your file and be sure to watch not only the derogatory accounts as we always do, but we will also watch for any new inquiries/positive accounts which might imply someone is trying to open new credit in your name.