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Data breaches: What’s a person to do?

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Recent headlines about data breaches at retail stores and universities may have you wondering if there’s anything you can do to help protect your credit going forward. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, says the answer is yes. One option is a credit freeze. Also known as a security freeze, this tool lets you restrict access to your credit report, which in turn makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. That’s because most creditors need to look at your credit report before approving a new account. If they can’t see your file, they may not extend the credit.

To place a freeze on your credit reports, contact each of the nationwide credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You will need to supply your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information. Fees vary based on where you live, but commonly range from $5 to $10.

A credit freeze does not:

  • affect your credit score
  • prevent you from getting your free annual credit report
  • keep you from opening a new account, applying for a job, renting an apartment, or buying insurance. If you’re doing any of these, you’ll need to lift the freeze temporarily, either for a specific time, or for a specific party, say, a potential landlord or employer. The cost and lead times to lift a freeze vary, so it’s best to check with the credit reporting company in advance.
  • prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts. You still need to monitor all bank, credit card and insurance statements for fraudulent transactions.

Learn more about keeping your personal information secure at Privacy and Identity.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


Thanks for the information your office has provided. These retail stores, businesses, and other entities where shopping is being done. Especially online is becoming a major problem also. We need information on other problems dealing with how can you hack someone account when we have our credit card and other personal information in our possessions. This is becoming a "Major Problem" for many taxpayers and consumers who uses debit, credit cards, and giving out information over the phone. I refuse to give any information over the phone, unless I have been doing business in personal. Yet, that those not prove they are honest. So, no personal information over the phone at all. Thanks for the information.


very good information to have. what about people who are unemployed and employment benefit has stopped. They can not afford to pay for a credit freeze.

It will be nice to get a response on this: is the person affected the only one responsible? What is the responsibility of a company that recruit people to work for the government, gather all this sensitive data, and then inform applicants that all the information was compromised by a security breach? Tough luck for the applicants, still unemployed, who were recruited to initiate the applications with them? Something does not sound right in this picture.

I recently tried to e-file my taxes and couldn't get it to submit without being "rejected". Found out the next day someone had used my SSN to file a bogus tax return, don't know if they also used my name. Very frustrating because I am very careful about all of my personal ID and numbers.

Had the same thing happen. We received a check for an incorrect amount before we had actually filed a return.. then when our accountant attempted to file our electronically, it was rejected. Now we must give proof of our identity and wait 3-6 mos for our actual refund... Not to mention the even bigger problem of having our S #s used. Have checked credit report, put fraud alert now credit freeze with all 3 credit reporting co & filed claims FTC IC3. Hopefully wont need new SS #s. Anything else you know to do would appreciate your response.

You can also contact Ftc or your local BAR assoc obtain a lawyer/lawyers to investigate who has tried to use your info you must file a police report first whether its company or disgruntled associate. People work to hard to allow opportunists to use name for fuadulent reasons. Here's some help...get a JOB scams only last as long talentless success...

Thank you very much. There is a serious case of data breach on all my accounts. The breaches were all orchestrated by the same I D Thief who have been operating with impunity for years. He has created false data to replace my data that has been breached. This is now presented as the basis of the transactions he is now peddling. Privacy, Fair Credit Reporting, are non-existent as far as my accounts are concerned. I hope you can sort out most of the problems. Thank you.

VALIC has disclosed that my SSN and name were taken by a former employee. They did not give me the individual's name. Twenty years from now, I may be scammed. Not practical to have a credit freeze for life, so what to do?

Lost over a million of residents SS# even, including bank account info. Basically anything that was on a tax return and before that one, medicare citizens info as well..

What can be done? They will give let the taxpayers pay for a membership with a credit reporting agency to monitor, for I think it is two years. Of course, politicians say the state will give, but who funds the state? People who are now potential victims.

What about the children that are 5 years old. The hackers that could get into the system of SC have data and info of SS numbers that will be useful for generations. No repercussions or thoughts of lifelong impact!

What will the FTC do about states and peoples social security numbers. Of the very old and the very very young, who cannot watch?? Many people are poor, can't get online, so much..

Is government beyond accountability and repairing these types of issues?

This information though is very helpful.

since 5/8/14 at 4 pm I have received more than 80 calls stating I applied for a loan lnline and they have the last 4 digits of my soc. sec. and the last caller even had a bank acct no. This info could have only come fr a major retailer or a credit card co. The local police said I did not need a police report as I was keeping a log of callers, date, time, etc.

You can file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at

Watch this video to learn more about how to report a scam to the FTC and why it matters.

my banking info was stolen during a data breach recently. A duplicate fradulent card was made and used for over $1700 worth of purchase attempts. Luckily the bank froze the card, but not until almost $800 of charges went through. Bank NEVER notified me that this had happened. I had checked my account the next day because I was waiting for a check to clear. Now my account is overdrawn, I have to jump through hoops to get my $$ back (including a payroll deposit that I couldn't stop). Once I get my $$ I'm closing that account and switching banks.

I wonder why they haven't fined companies negligent in protecting consumer information such as Neiman marcus ...they had their computers compromised for over 6 months

The FTC has been a failure in protecting consumers..Congress should investigate

Someone I know just got an email from and it asked them for their date of birth. After that, it wrote this same person again and instead it displayed a date of birth. Not sure what kind of fraud this could lead to or why someone is trying to dangle bait for someone to bite on.

the 3 top dogs for Equifax that sold all their stock should be forced to pay back 3 times the amount they made on their FRAUDULENT trade and put in jail. For them to say they had no idea about the breach is REDICULOUS. It just goes to show you that people with money think they can do and say anything they want and get away with it.

So far, I have wasted over two and a half hours talking to Equifax phone personnel on their "emergency contact line", visiting their website and, now, communicating with you trying to ascertain whether or not my personal information was hacked. So far, all I have learned is that I have wasted over two and a half hours!

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