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Since 2005, nearly 563 million records containing sensitive, personal information have been breached in the United States*. What does that mean? Someone who was not supposed to access social security numbers, bank accounts or other information did. That is a staggering number considering the United States’ population comes in at around 315 million!

Whether your personal information is stolen, or you simply trust the wrong people with it, use these FREE, EASY tools to minimize the effects of a breach:

1. Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports. It’s FREE, stays in place for 90 days and requires a business to take steps to verify that it is in fact you that is applying for the good or service. Call one of the credit bureaus and they’ll notify the other two. (Use the numbers under #2 to issue a fraud alert.)

2. Consider a Security Freeze. It’s FREE and will prevent a business from accessing your credit report for new products or services, unless you temporarily lift the freeze. You must call each of the credit bureaus to freeze your reports.

Equifax: 800-685-1111
TransUnion: 800-680-7289
Experian: 888-397-3742

3. Track Your Money and Statements. Be sure that your bills and statements are arriving on time and are correct. ID thieves don’t just use your information to get money. Because your social security number can be used to get things like student loans, driver’s license/ID, a job and cell phone service, be sure to monitor ALL of your statements. Also, check your credit report at least once a year. You can do this for FREE by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com or calling 877-322-8228.

Think you’ll take any of these steps? If so, we’d like to hear about it. Tweet using #SCDCAsecure.

For more identity theft information, visit www.consumer.sc.gov and click “Identity Theft Resources,”  or, join the SCDCA for a twitter chat on identity theft on Wednesday, March 27 from 1-2 p.m. (@SCDCA #SCDCAsecure)

*A Chronology of Data Breaches, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, July 2012

http://www.indefenseofdata.com/data-breach-trends-stats/

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