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How to help protect your identity after a data breach

Helpful steps to take when a data breach occurs

A data breach can compromise the personal information of thousands, or sometimes millions, of people, exposing them to identity theft and other risks. Review the steps below to learn what you can do to help protect your personal information from future attacks.

1. Consider placing a credit freeze on your account

A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, helps restrict access to your credit report, which then makes it more difficult for other people to fraudulently open new accounts in your name.

To be more effective, you must independently place a freeze with each of the three credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. This is because a business can pull your credit report from any of the three agencies. For instance, if a business requests your credit report from Experian or TransUnion, and you’ve only frozen your Equifax file, they’ll still be able to gain access to the report.

When you set up the credit freeze, you will be required to select a PIN to use when you’re ready to un-freeze your credit or submit legitimate applications. More information about credit freezes is available from the Federal Trade Commission.

2. Be careful about credit protection scams

After a breach, the impacted company may offer its affected customers access to a credit protection program to help monitor their accounts. Unfortunately, some scammers take advantage of these moments and create fake programs to lure in unsuspecting victims.

If you decide to use a credit protection service, be sure to research the company and check the website to help ensure that you’re enrolling with a reputable firm.

3. Monitor your accounts for unusual activity

  • Activate account alerts with your financial institution. Monitoring your accounts is important, particularly in the months following a data breach. Account alerts can help notify you of suspicious activity regarding your accounts. Similarly, be sure to review the transactions on your bank account statements regularly.
  • Be sure to get your free annual credit report from each credit bureau. Monitoring your credit reports is still one of the most effective ways to identify irregular activity. Visit annualcreditreport.com to get free copies of your credit reports each year. Because you can order from each bureau individually, consider ordering from a different bureau every four months over the course of the year.
  • Update your account with extra security measures where available. Two-factor authentication and biometrics provide extra layers of security to help protect your accounts. These measures can make it harder for a fraudster to access your account, even if they have certain personal information. Wells Fargo customers can learn more about available Security Tools and Options.

You can explore more tips on account and identity security at Wells Fargo’s Fraud Information Center.

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