Consumer Rights And Data Breach

By Michael Deem

Protecting Yourself from Identify Theft

The 2017 data breach by Equifax meant that sensitive personal information for 145 million Americans was potentially exposed, including Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.  This incident has left many consumers wondering how they can protect themselves from identify theft.

Monitor your Account

Check your financial account transactions regularly.  Opt-in for alerts that screen for questionable transactions and opt-in for multifactor authentication. Look for charges that you don’t recognize, even if they were for small amounts.  Sometimes scoundrels test the waters with small charges.  Be aware of communications claiming to be from credit reporting agency or financial institution.

Review Credit Reports

By law, all consumers are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).  You can request a free credit report from, by phone or mail.  Any site other than is not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program.   Make sure you spell the domain name correctly and avoid look-alike scam sites.

Place a Freeze

A credit freeze prevents new creditors from accessing your credit file and others from opening accounts in your name.  A freeze could stop identity thieves because most (but not all) businesses will not open credit accounts without checking your credit report.   A credit freeze does not prevent identity thieves from taking-over your existing account.

Set a fraud alert!

A fraud alert requires creditors who check your credit report to take steps to verify your identity before opening a new account, issuing additional card or increasing your credit limit on an existing account. A fraud alert is free.  You can place an initial alert on your account for 90 days if you have not been a victim of identity theft.

The litigation attorneys at the Law Offices of R.C. Shea & Associates handle most consumer fraud claims on a contingency basis. A contingency means if there is no recovery, there is no fee. Call us for a free consultation: 732-505-1212.