Ohio Attorney General’s Office
COLUMBUS – Following news of an Experian data breach affecting records of about 15 million T-Mobile customers and potential customers, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is encouraging consumers to guard against identity theft.
“If your information has been compromised in a data breach, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be the victim of identity theft, but you should take common-sense steps to protect yourself,” DeWine said. “Monitor your accounts and check your mail. If you find signs of identity theft, contact my office for help.”
Tips for consumers affected by a data breach include:
- Check your mail. Open letters you receive. Look for notifications that you have been affected by a security breach, or for signs of identity theft, such as unexpected bills or a card member agreement for an account you did not open.
- Monitor your bank accounts. Look for suspicious activity. If you find errors, immediately notify your bank or credit provider.
- Place an initial fraud alert on your credit report. Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion — to place an initial fraud alert, which will stay on your credit report for 90 days. The alert is free and will make it more difficult for someone to open credit in your name.
- Consider placing a security freeze on your credit reports. A security freeze helps stop imposters from opening unauthorized accounts in your name by limiting access to your credit report. Contact each credit reporting agency separately to place a freeze. In Ohio, a security freeze is permanent until you lift it. You may be charged a $5 fee per credit reporting agency to place or remove a freeze.
- Check your credit report. You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to access your reports. You can pull all three at once, or you can stagger pulling your reports throughout the year.
- Beware of scams related to the breach. Con artists may pose as a representative from the organization that was breached to try to obtain your personal information. Calls claiming to provide information about the breach may be scams.
Consumers also should look for signs of possible identity theft, which may include:
- Unexpected mail about accounts you did not open.
- Credit card charges you never made.
- Unexpected collection calls.
- Another person’s name showing up in your background check or credit report.
- Credit reporting errors or a lower-than-expected credit score.
Victims of identity theft should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov. Attorney General DeWine’s Identity Theft Unit helps victims correct the effects of identity theft. In its first three years, the unit received about 3,500 complaints and helped victims clear over $1 million in fraudulent debt.
This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal