Report: Don't get ripped off

Data Breach? Tips for protecting yourself

Released by: Maryland PIRG Students

This winter a data breach at UMD compromised names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and University identification numbers for UMD students, staff, alumni, and faculty who have had university ID’s since 1998.

What should you do?

  1. Don't panic. Monitor your credit. UMD is offering free credit monitoring for five years if you sign up by May 31st. Go to www.umd.edu/datasecurity for more information and to sign up. Monitoring your credit report will warn you if new accounts have been set up with your social security, but it won’t stop ID theft in the first place. Only a security freeze (see below) can stop ID theft.
  2. Don't pay for expensive credit monitoring services. The University is providing a monitoring service for five years, so take advantage. In addition you also have the right under federal law to look at each of your three credit reports once a year for free at www.annualcreditreport.com.You can stagger these requests -- one every four months -- to do your own credit monitoring at no cost. And under state law here in Maryland you are eligible for yet another free report annually by calling each of the three major credit bureaus. Further, if you suspect identity theft, you have the right to call any of the three bureaus for yet a third free report (and to place an identity theft fraud alert on your reports).
  3. Beware of phishing. Be aware of "phishing" emails or phone calls, even calls or emails purporting to be from your bank's fraud department. When a thief has some of the information needed to commit identity theft, he will call or email you to try to get the additional information needed to open new accounts in your name.Never click on any links in emails, even if they appear to be from your bank. Never give any information to anyone who calls you, even if the caller says something like: "I am going to tell you your account number to verify that this is a legitimate call." Instead, respond by hanging up and calling the number on the back of your card and asking for the fraud department.
  4. The strongest prevention against ID theft after a breach is a security freeze. Maryland has one of the strongest security freeze laws in the nation. A security freeze prevents your credit report from being shared with potential new creditors. If your credit files are frozen, a thief will probably not be able to get credit in your name.You pay $5 per credit bureau to freeze your report from access to potential creditors. When you yourself want to shop for car loans or credit cards, you’ll need to pay $5 for a temporary “unfreeze.” (Freezes are free if you have a police report showing you are already a victim of identity theft). More info: www.oag.state.md.us/idtheft/freezing.htm

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