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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 following a breach.

1. Consider placing a credit freeze

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. Watch 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 you quickly spot unusual activity. Similarly, be sure to review the transactions on your bank account statements regularly. Report suspicious or unauthorized transactions right away.
  • 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.

3. Review your security options

  • Update your account with additional security measures where available. Two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security to help protect your accounts. This can make it harder for anyone to access your account, even if they have certain personal information. Wells Fargo customers can learn more about available Security Tools and Options.
  • As an added precaution, change your usernames, passwords, and PINs because they are often stolen in data breaches. Don't use the same password more than once.

Explore more tips at Wells Fargo’s Security Center.

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