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Tips to Protecting Your Identity

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 | 11:41am

Equifax, one of the nation’s three main credit bureaus suffered a data breach from mid-May through July 2017, exposing 143 million U.S. customer’s personal information such as names, birth dates, social security numbers, addresses, and in some cases driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers.  In light of recent data breaches involving Equifax and other companies, the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Identity Crimes Unit would like to provide you with some actions you can take if you suspect you may be the victim of identity theft:

  1. You can use the Equifax website to see if your personal information may have been impacted by the breach by visiting www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.
    • Equifax is offering free identity theft protection and credit file monitoring to all U.S. consumers, even if you are not impacted by this incident.  More information about this service can be found on their website above.
  2. Check your credit regularly by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.  Accounts or activity you do not recognize may indicate your identity has been compromised.
    • You can get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company.
  3. If you are one of those affected, consider placing a credit freeze or fraud alert on your account.
    • A credit freeze can prevent someone from opening a new account without your knowledge.  It will not prevent fraudulent changes or charges to existing accounts.
    • A fraud alert can be used to warn creditors that you may be a victim of identity theft and instructs them to verify your identity before opening any new accounts.
  4. Consider changing passwords to your online accounts.
    • Monitor these accounts closely to identify any unauthorized activity.
  5. File your taxes early before a fraudster has an opportunity to file a fraudulent claim.
    • When someone has your social security number they can work, file taxes, and receive a tax refund without your knowledge.
  6. Keep in mind that while identity theft occurs in many financial crimes, it is not limited to this use. Any abnormal U.S. Mail, e-mail, or phone calls could indicate potential identity theft.

For more information about identity theft, visit https://www.tn.gov/safety/article/icu.  If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, contact your local law enforcement immediately.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to serve, secure, and protect the people of Tennessee.

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Safety & Homeland Security

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