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Identity theft is a very scary and real occurrence today that no one is safe from. Victims of these breaches occur daily. Most recently, a giant breach to a credit reporting company has many questioning just how safe we’ll ever be from these types of attacks.

The Equifax Breach

Equifax recently announced that it was the victim of a breach occurring from May through July that potentially affects 143 million U.S. consumers. Criminals accessed sensitive data via a vulnerability in the company’s dispute portal website application.

What’s most startling about this specific security issue is the type of sensitive information that thieves may have gotten their hands on. Personal data including credit card numbers, birth dates and other self-identifying information was compromised. This adds another layer of concern because having this information out there makes it much easier to obtain unwarranted access to perform a host of criminal activities.

Industry experts everywhere are warning people to treat this as a major issue and assume their personal data is at risk. Here is how you can protect yourself from identity theft after the Equifax breach.

Credit Monitoring Services

It’s always a good idea to be vigilant about charges on your credit and banking statements. You should be extra cautious with this event now occurring to check that no fraudulent charges are making their way through. Sometimes these criminals will even try to charge $1.00 just to test out the system.

For its part in the matter, Equifax has offered free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection for all U.S. consumers even if they weren’t specifically identified as being part of the breach as a precaution. This service checks against the credit bureau for reports, makes it possible to lock and unlock reports and checks for social security numbers using an Internet scan.

Credit Freeze

A credit freeze is a common protection many people take who are concerned about a breach because it makes it harder for criminals to create any new accounts in their name. A freeze also makes it harder to access your credit report. This seems to be the option many are turning to as the Equifax breach unfolds. The company is also reimbursing those who paid for a freeze starting Sept. 7 and is waiving all fees for removing and adding freezes until Nov. 21. It’s important to remember however, that a freeze will not stop criminals from making changes to existing accounts so careful monitoring is still necessary.

Fraud Alert

Placing a fraud alert on file is also a great way to let lenders and creditors know to take extra precautions like requiring additional identification when a request comes through for the account. This is a slightly less drastic route and can be easily removed and put pack on at any time while still offering some peace of mind that an alert is in place.

At Petruzelo, we understand how important it is to feel safe and protected. Did you know some home and renters insurance policies include identity theft insurance to help protect you in the event of a crime as you restore your identity?  Contact us today to learn more.