In what could be one of the largest data breaches in the country, hackers targeted credit bureau Equifax and accessed personal data of nearly 143 million people or more than 40% of the Canadian population. Data affected included names, Social Security Numbers, driver’s license data and even credit card numbers. All this data could potentially be used to steal money from you, open up accounts in your name and even creates birth certificates and driver’s licenses using your information.
Identity theft is a serious crime. Identity theft happens when someone uses information about you without your permission. They could use your:
- name and address
- credit card or bank account numbers
- Social Security number
- phone or utility account numbers
- medical insurance numbers
After the Initial Identity Theft Report
After you file identity theft complaints with the FTC and your local law enforcement agencies, what’s next? It’s hard to know how to proceed. Your first instinct is to fight problems as they arise. But there’s a better way.
Instead of waiting to find out what areas of your life will be affected by identity theft, you can begin monitoring your credit report and managing any financial damages that have done. Since most identity theft is actually discovered because of the financial damage that’s done, this is a very important step in your recovery.
Repairing Your Credit
Credit reporting agencies (CRA) such as Equifax and Experian collect information about your financial and legal background. That information is used to compile a credit report. If you’ve spent a lifetime paying your bills on time and staying out of jail, your credit report will reflect that.
Credit reports are sold to creditors, employers, insurers, and others who may want or need to know whether you are a good risk. Based on your credit report, you may or may not be hired for a job, offered a loan, or granted a mortgage.
When your identity is stolen, there is an excellent chance that your credit has been compromised. As a result, your credit report may now reflect problems you didn’t cause, and that may cause serious issues down the line. Fortunately, you can order a free copy of your credit reports through the official government-approved website AnnualCreditReport.com.
If you do discover problems with your credit reports, you will need to address them directly by placing a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit file and then fixing errors. To do that, you can contact the credit agencies directly.