Other Ways to Protect Your Identity AFTER You Freeze Your Credit

The best way to protect yourself is to first freeze your credit.  Unfortunately, a credit freeze won't help with all breach threats.  While freezing your credit will stop fraudsters from opening new credit accounts in your name, and attempting to steal your Social Security benefits, there are other ways they can use your identity to profit.

 

Tax Refunds

With your Social Security number, crooks can file false income tax returns in your name, take bogus deductions, and steal the resulting refund. More than 14,000 fraudulent 2016 tax returns, with $92 million in unwarranted refunds, were detected and stopped by the Internal Revenue Service as of March 2017.

 

Though you are generally not liable for such fraud, if a criminal manages to change your tax records and receive your refund, it can take months to straighten out the mess.

 

You can help protect yourself by filing your tax returns as soon as possible each year.  You should also review your account information with the IRS frequently to ensure there is no suspicious or fraudulent activity.  For more information, click HERE.  If you think your tax account has been compromised, call 1-800-908-4490.

 

Health Insurance

The data obtained from the Equifax breach can be used to steal your benefits from private health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid when the identity thief uses your coverage to pay for his or her own medical treatment and prescriptions.

 

You can protect yourself by first obtaining copies of your medical records from providers.  This provides a "baseline" of your health before your records are compromised.  Then, check back regularly to see if new providers, information, or charges have been added that you didn't authorize or receive.

 

Also request an "accounting of disclosures" from each of your health plans and medical providers, which will tell you who got copies of your records from each provider.  The law allows you to order one free copy from each medical provider each year.

 

If your insurance provider offers a secure online portal, sign up and sign in regularly to review your explanation of benefits.  This will show treatments you received when and from which providers.

 

Finally, review your credit reports annually for any sign of medical collection accounts that don't belong to you.

 

Fraudulent Checks

Identity thieves could use your information to obtain, create, and pass fraudulent checks.  To protect yourself, request your free annual consumer report from each of the big three check verification companies: ChexSystems, Certegy, and TeleCheck.

 

Driver's License

Using your driver’s license number, identity thieves can create bogus driver’s licenses and hang their moving violations on you. With more work and information from phishing or further hacking, identity thieves can create bogus checks to pay a cashier, who “verifies” the shopper’s identity by writing your license number on the bad check.

 

If this happens to you, you may not discover how your license has been used until a police officer tells you, or perhaps, until a bank closes your account because of too many bounced checks.

 

To help protect yourself, obtain a copy of your driving record each year.  Most states charge for this, usually about $10.  If you find your driver's license is being used fraudulently, you can file a police report at your local police department.  You can have the department of motor vehicles flag your license and/or issue you a new license number.

 

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