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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Usually the damage is already done when you learn your identity has been stolen.
“I found out when it was too late. I came home from vacation and had bills that were in accounts that were in my name,” said Dan Stolze.
“It’s not unusual to have your identity compromised and you not know about it,” said fraud expert Andrew Richards.
Richards, who is also the President of Fraud Investigative Service, LLC, based in Pittsburgh, recommends requesting a copy of your credit report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
You are entitled to one free report every year from each of companies. To request them, you can visit AnnualCreditReport.com.
“Here we have a situation where the identities have been taken and if they have sold them off, the compromise might not actually happen for several months,” said Richards.
To check whether you may be at risk, go to EquifaxSecurity2017.com. Click on the ‘Potential Impact’ tab. Enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. You have the option to enroll in an identity theft and credit monitoring protection program, Equifax is offering for free with Trusted ID Premier. If you choose to opt into the program, they will give you an enroll date when you can log back on and complete the enrollment process.
“Those that did the hacking probably won’t be doing the identity theft. They will usually sell the names off in blocks, get money for it from other bad guys who will try to compromise it,” said Richards.
Richards recommends comparing your credit reports from year to year, looking for discrepancies and any accounts you did not authorize.
“These things continue to go. They continue to occur. And you just have to continue to be diligent,” said Richards.
Consider placing a security freeze on your credit. It restricts access to your credit and stops thieves from creating accounts in your name. It does not affect your credit score and you have the power to lift it. You must request it with each of credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian & TransUnion.
You can request a security freeze online, by phone or by mail. In Pennsylvania, the cost is $10 with each bureau. It’s free for those 65 and older as well as victims of identity theft.
Equifax said the massive data breach happened between mid-May and July and was discovered on July 29, 2017. Yet, the public wasn’t notified until September 7, 2017. In the interim, three Equifax executives sold their stock.
“Maybe there needs to be additional legislation on mandates for notification to the public and the victims,” said Richards.
According to Richards, if there was no criminal investigation underway that could have been jeopardized by a public announcement, the victims should have been notified sooner.
“That’s unethical and inappropriate,” said Richards.
Richards said delays in reporting victimize people twice.
“We’ve seen a lot. We’ve seen ones that have been delayed almost a year,” said Richards.
“I think Congress should make a law for that. Because I feel that as a consumer and a person who buys products, I would want to know if something is breached with any sort of credit card or company,” said Emily Figueroa.