A little bit of time has passed, and Ohio consumers have had a chance to recover from the initial shock of the Equifax data breach. Now, many of those affected (practically anyone with a credit report) are figuring out how to move forward in the safest way possible. Unfortunately, the damage caused by the massive Equifax hack cannot be undone. Personal information belonging to over 145 million consumers is already out there and exposed. Knowing this, a lot of Ohio residents are looking for ways to stop or at least minimize potential credit score and financial damage. Luckily, there are several options available for anyone in Ohio who wants to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.
Five Tips for Ohio Consumers with Information Exposed by the Equifax Data Breach
Even with exposed Social Security numbers, credit card information, and driver’s licenses, Ohio consumers can still make it harder for scammers to attack. Here are a few ways to protect your credit score and hard-earned income in a post-breach world where no one seems safe from identity theft.
Sign up for a credit monitoring service.
Equifax is offering a free year of its TrustedID Premier credit monitoring service to all U.S. consumers. However, if you don’t want to trust Equifax with your credit safety (totally understandable), there are other options out there. For example, both Experian and TransUnion (the two other major credit bureaus) offer credit monitoring for around $20 a month. Also, some credit card companies offer this service as a complimentary perk to their customers, so check with your issuer. With all credit monitoring services, Ohio consumers are notified about any changes with their credit reports.
Initiate credit report freezes or locks.
Credit report freezes are very popular in Ohio and every other U.S. state right now. This is because freezing your credit reports prevents anyone – including you – from opening new credit cards or applying for loans in your name. For a limited time, Equifax will not charge fees for either freezing or unfreezing credit reports. Yet, in order for credit freezes to work, you must freeze your credit reports from Experian and TransUnion as well. In most states, these credit bureaus still charge small fees for this service. As an alternative, you can implement credit locks instead. Both TransUnion and Equifax offer free credit locks, and these are easier and faster than credit freezes to undo if you need quick access to your credit reports.
Don’t respond to unsolicited emails.
Sadly, many fraudsters will capitalize on consumer fear in the wake of the Equifax data breach. They may attempt to do this by sending emails that look like they are from Equifax or one of your creditors. Therefore, if you get a surprise email that seems like it is from such an organization don’t respond right away, especially it requests information from you. Instead, call the company and speak with a customer service representative to verify that the communication is legitimate.
File your income tax return early.
Undoubtedly, hackers with access to the stolen Equifax data will commit identity theft in Ohio by filing fraudulent tax returns. If this happens to you, a scammer might claim your tax refund this year. This is why all Ohio consumers should beat identity thieves to the punch by filing their tax returns early. The earlier you file, the more you reduce your risk of tax fraud.
Check your financial statements and credit reports regularly.
Finally, no matter how many other identity theft protection tactics you employ, you should still check your financial statements and credit reports on a regular basis. If you have online access to your credit card and bank statements, take a peek at these daily. As for your credit reports, the Federal Trade Commission recommended checking them at least once every 12 months, and that was BEFORE the Equifax data breach. Needless to say, it’s more important than ever to request and review your annual free copies of your credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Just go to www.annualcreditreport.com to request all three from one website.
If you do find fraudulent accounts or bogus transactions on any of your credit reports, call the Law Offices of Gary D. Nitzkin in Ohio. We know how to fix credit report damage caused by identity theft quickly. In fact, after you call our firm, an experienced credit attorney will start working to get you clean credit reports – for free.
The Free and Legal way to Get Better Credit After Identity Theft
Don’t let identity theft damage bring your credit score down. At the Law Offices of Gary D. Nitzkin, P.C., we’ve been cleaning up credit reports for consumers since 2008 for free. How do we do it? The law allows us to collect our fees and costs from the defendants in any successful action. This is why our clients pay nothing for the work we do.
Let’s start the conversation about what we can do for your credit. Set up your free consultation today by calling Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (480) 771-6001 or sending him a message through our contact page.
For more information about Free Credit Repair After Identity Theft, please visit https://www.creditrepairlawyersam.com/ohio/fix-identity-theft/.