I was only informed I had an issue when my bank sent me a new debit card. My current card was getting ready to expire so I thought nothing of it. I looked at it quickly and thought the numbers looked different but thought no more about it until my bank called me. They had asked about a check coming through that they thought was suspicious. Thankfully I was aware of this particular check, but that did spark my thought about the new debit card.
After speaking to another bank rep, I was informed my identity had been compromised and there was suspicious activity on my account. (Funny how they never called me about those issues..). I got everything sorted out and my new card activated before it really hit me. Someone had access to my personal information and could have potentially did some damage to my finances and my name.
Identity theft is a real thing and can happen to ANYONE. I thought I was doing a thorough job of keeping all of my personal and financial information safe. I check my accounts every couple of days to make sure everything looks kosher. Just like that things can get scary. For this reason alone I asked lots of questions on how to do an ever better job at keeping my identity safe. Here are a few tips I learned so I wanted to throw them your way:
Change passwords regularly. A lot of financial institutes already make you do this, but if they don't do it yourself. It really can make the difference.
Credit Reports. Get yourself signed up for a program that provides you with quarterly reports. A lot of these programs will also alert you if you have any suspicious activity on your account. I have a program with my Discover credit card but unfortunately it is still in my parents address so I did not get any word of the issues going on. #fail
Protection. Similar to the reports I get from Discover, there are programs out there that are strictly in place to monitor your identity. I am personally looking into using Life Lock. A co-worker suggested it when I mentioned this little adventure. It offers detection, alerts, and restore services. There is a small fee a month but they will fight for you if you ever have an identity issue. Truth be told just because your bank got hacked doesn't mean your bank won't fight you tooth and nail with overdrawn charges and such. I know someone who was sent to collections from their bank and it was the banks fault. Crazy stuff out there folks!
Beware of Scams. This sounds like a no brainer but there are so many scams out there asking for your personal information. Being in the freebie business (yes I consider it a business.. it takes lots of hard work!) I have to be very careful with who I give my info to. If it seems to good to be true, chances are it is a scam. There are new scams everyday and they are getting more and more believable so keep your guard up.
I hope this never happens to any of you, but if it does make sure you are prepared. Get yourself protected. This was such an eye opening experience for me and now I don't feel at all guilty to purchase a plan that will help me fight back had this been a serious threat.
Have you ever had your identity stolen or compromised? Were you prepared for it? I would love to hear how you handled this serious situation.