Better Business Bureau has some suggestions for consumers concerned that their personal identifying information (PII) may have been compromised by a data breach. PII includes name, address, Social Security number (Social Insurance number in Canada), date of birth, and other information that can be used for identity theft.
When a data breach happens, companies often set up separate websites with information for customers, but BBB recommends that consumers always go to a company’s main website first and follow links from there. Scammers often take advantage of data breaches and subsequent confusion to set up spoof websites and send phishing emails.
BBB offers the following suggestions for consumers concerned that their PII has been stolen:
- Do not take a “wait and see” approach as you may have done with breaches involving credit card data. You must act quickly. Breaches involving Social Security numbers have the potential to be far more detrimental to victims, and the damage can be difficult to repair.
- Consider taking a preemptive strike by freezing your credit reports. This will not impact existing credit cards and financial accounts, but will create a roadblock for thieves seeking to create fraudulent accounts using your personal information.
- At a minimum, if you know your Social Security number has been compromised, place a fraud alert on your credit reports. While less effective than a freeze, this will provide an extra layer of protection. Click here to learn more about security freezes and fraud alerts.
- Take advantage of any free credit monitoring services being offered by the company to breach victims. While this is not a preventative measure, this will alert you to new accounts or inquiries using your Social Security number so that you can act quickly to repair the damage.
- Vigilance is key. Regularly check your credit reports at annualcreditreport.com for unauthorized charges or other signs of fraud. (NOTE: This is the only free credit report option authorized by the Federal Trade Commission.)
- For more information and complete step-by-step guidance on repairing the damage caused by identity theft, visit the FTC’s identity theft resources.
- Expect that scammers will take advantage of this data breach to send out phishing emails and other messages that appear to be from Anthem, a credit bureau or other legitimate companies. Do not click on links from any email, text or social media messages about this or any other data breach.