After the recent data breaches in the news from Saks 5th Avenue/Lord & Taylor and from Orbitz/Expedia, it is important to take some steps to protect yourself from credit fraud.
Consider a fraud alert or credit freeze.
You can curtail thieves’ ability to open lines of credit in your name by setting up a fraud alert, or even freezing you credit altogether, with the three major credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
A fraud alert lets these firms know that your info may have been compromised. They will then take steps to verify that any credit applications in your name are legitimate.
However, it does not block access to your credit report. Access to that information can be blocked by setting up a credit freeze.
It can cost up to ten dollars to freeze your credit with each credit reporting firm, depending on where you live.
Keep in mind that you also have to unfreeze your credit when you want to open a new account, and that could take a week or two.
Watch for warning signs
Keep an eye out for small transactions, even as little as one to two dollars that come up on any of your accounts. Thieves will often test a card to see if it works and if they will be spotted by charging smaller amounts.
Always remember to protect yourself. Keep your passwords and logins secure, and even your address and phone number. Any mailings you get, or other paperwork that has any type of sensitive information on it needs to be destroyed properly before it is just disposed of. Anything that goes in your curbside trash could be considered fair game by anybody. Consider using American Document Destruction to render any information on any type of physical media unusable!