SAN DIEGO – San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan is warning consumers to consider taking steps to protect their personal identifying information in the wake of a recent data breach at one of the large credit bureaus in the United States, Equifax. Cybercriminals stole 143 million credit records in the recent hacking scandal at the big-three credit bureau.
“At this point millions of consumers have to assume that the bad guys have highly personal information that they can use to trick you,” Stephan said. “Our ‘CATCH’ team has posted advice for consumers online, (www.catchteam.org/current-scams.html), and I encourage San Diego County residents to consider taking steps to protect themselves.”
Experts have said to watch out for the following: Phishing and phony emails that claim to be from Equifax where consumers can check if their data was compromised; phishing emails that claim there is a problem with a credit card, credit record or other personal financial information; calls from scammers that claim they are from the bank or credit union and fraudulent charges on any credit card because an identity was stolen.
There are four things consumers can do to prevent identify theft.
First, sign up for credit monitoring from a company providing that service such as Equifax, but be sure to read the Terms of Agreement carefully and note if there are any setup or recurring costs associated with the monitoring.
Place a fraud alert with one of the major credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Placing a fraud alert is free and stays on the credit report for 90 days.
Check credit reports for free at www.annualcreditreport.com, andcheck bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized activity.
Visit these two sites to learn more about how to protect against identity theft, www.idtheftcenter.org and www.ftc.gov/idtheft.