Additional Steps You Can Take to Help Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

In addition to registering for Credit Monitoring Services, below are some additional steps—all generally free of charge—that all consumers—whether class members or not—can take to help protect against the unauthorized use of personal information:

  • File your taxes as early as possible. This reduces the opportunity for possible identity criminals to use your personal information to impersonate you and request a refund in your name.
  • With all your financial providers, monitor your accounts and sign up for alerts. Monitor your financial account history as well, reviewing transaction activity or any other changes. If you’re not sure how to do this, call the tech support line of your bank, credit union, payment card or investment company.
  • Also, with your financial providers (and any other high-value service providers), consider signing up for secondary authentication in order to give the company more ways to confirm that it’s really you accessing your account. If you’re not sure how to use this, call the company’s tech support desk, and tell them you want the strongest methods in place to confirm that it’s only you they’re dealing with in the future.
  • Use unique, strong and up-to-date passwords, with 8-digits of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols, and don’t record them in a format or place where an identity thief can see them. You can consider using a password manager, which allows you to memorize just one password and provides secure access to all the others.  Your anti-malware software, device, or browser may already include a password manager, and many highly-rated companies also offer them for free online.
  • Set fraud alerts with each of the three credit bureaus–and then reset them again every 90 days–at ExperianEquifax, or TransUnion’s web site. Fraud alerts tell possible lenders to assign a higher level of caution when accessing your personal identity records to open or change account relationships in your name. Set a reminder so that you don’t forget to continue the fraud alert after 90 days.
  • Monitor your credit record at least every 120 days, for free. Some banks or credit unions offer this at no charge to their customers, so start by checking with your financial provider. For a full report, go to the government-mandated site, being careful to select just one of the three bureaus each time. Visit the site after another 120 days to get a report from a different bureau.
  • Be on guard for tricksters who contact you by phone or online, posing as a trusted authority (such as a bank or the IRS) under the guise that some bogus “security condition” requires you to confirm who you are before they can “help you.” No legitimate person will ever contact you and request identity data in this manner, and if you receive such a request simply end the conversation, without apology or explanation.
  • Consider including all affected family members’ identity records in these steps, no matter their age. Identity criminals can take over your children’s identity and use it for years, evading notice until a significant life-event (such as turning 18) exposes the damage.