In the wake of the Equifax data breach, BBB of Southern Arizona has some suggestions for the millions of consumers concerned that their personal and financial information may have been compromised.
Stay calm. Consumers are not liable for fraudulent charges on stolen account numbers.
Do NOT click on a link from an email, text or social media message as that may be a fraudster phishing scam. BBB is receiving a high number of reports with image examples.
If a credit card has been compromised, you will likely hear from the bank or card-issuer first. If you receive a call, don’t give out any personal information. Simply hang up and call the financial institution using the pone number on the back of your credit card,
Consider putting a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports with the three major credit reporting agencies (go.bbb.org/creditfreeze). A credit freeze will prevent anyone from accessing your credit report or scores. This means you cannot apply for new credit without lifting the freeze. A fraud alert flags your account but does not automatically halt new credit being opened in your name. To do this effectively, you should put a freeze on all three credit reporting agencies:
•Transunion: 800-680-7289, currently $5 – There are instances where you go through the online process and after you enter your information and provide payment, they note that they are unable to process your request and require you to mail in all of your information. BBB never recommends mailing documents that has your personal identification. Call Transunion directly to discuss.
AnnualCreditReport.com is the only website authorized by the Federal Trade Commission to provide you with a free annual credit report. Be wary of ads, emails, and social media messages for other services. Everyone should check their credit reports annually, whether or not they have been the victim of a data breach. Remember that children’s information can be stolen, as well, so also check those.
If your credit card(s) has been breached:
•Monitor your credit card statements carefully (go online; don’t wait for the paper statement).
•If you see a fraudulent charge, report it to your bank or credit card issuer immediately so the charge can be reversed and a new card issued.
•Keep receipts in case you need to prove which charges you authorized and which ones you did not.
•Do all of the above as for credit cards, but pay very careful attention to your account. Debit cards do not have the same protections as credit cards and debit transactions withdraw funds directly from your bank account.
•Contact your bank for more information, or if you want to pre-emptively request a new debit card or put a security block on your account.
Again, beware of scammers who may purport to be from Equifax, your bank, or your credit card issuer, telling you that your account was compromised and suggesting actions to “fix” the problem. Phishing emails may attempt to fool you into providing your credit card information, or ask you to click on a link or open an attachment, which can download malware onto your computer. Equifax is responsible to mail out letters notifying consumers affected by the breach, but only call the number listed above with questions.
For all businesses that collect customer information: Make sure you protect your customers’ data. Data breaches can happen to any business. Check out BBB’s online guide Data Security – Made Simpler for free information on how to create a data security plan.
Learn more about avoiding scams and fraud at bbb.org/scamtips. If you are the victim of a scam or want to search scams, please go to the BBB Scam Tracker at http://www.bbb.org/tucson. Be a hero to your community by warning others. Feel free to contact the Better Business Bureau Serving Southern Arizona at (520) 888-5353 or visit our website.
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