A reader wants to make sure he’s done everything possible to protect himself from the recent breaches that have resulted in millions of consumers’ data being exposed.
“5+ years ago I had my files frozen on all 3 credit bureaus. Is there anything more I can do to protect myself?”
That’s certainly a great start. If you freeze your credit, no one can open an account without your express permission (including you.) It’s actually a step I’d suggest for anyone, whether they suspect their information has been exposed or not. The only drawback is that if you actually do want to open a line of credit, you’ll have to unfreeze it first. (Click here for info on how to freeze your credit.)
If you suspect your Social Security number has been exposed, you can also prevent your account from being accessed online. This would prevent someone from filing a claim o your benefits or changing the account where your benefits are deposited. (Click here to learn about that.)
You’ll also want to carefully watch any current bank or investment accounts and credit cards. It wouldn’t hurt to check them daily for suspicious activity. If these accounts offer two-factor authentication set it up. Also, make sure you’re signed up for fraud alerts on your accounts. Set up to receive mobile transaction alerts for the accounts, so you’ll get a notification when any transaction happens.
Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible for all accounts. That means you’ll have an additional code sent to your cell phone or email in addition to a password when you log on. It’s an extra step, but it could be enough to deter someone attempting to hack into your account.
Check your email! Even if you get a lot of messages, you’ll want to look through for notification about accounts. This includes checking that spam folder in case something ends up in there.
You could also consider a credit monitoring service like LifeLock that can keep an eye on your data. But the problem is that services like that can also be hacked.
Unfortunately, there’s no step you can take that allows you to sit back and relax. You’re going to always need to be vigilant. Millions of hackers have nothing to do all day but figure out how to steal your information.