In June 2015, the United States Office of Personnel Management announced that it had been the target of a data breach targeting the records of as many as 4 million people. To put it in perspective, there were about 320 billion people in the US around that time, so statistically speaking, there was a better chance that I wasn’t one of those 4 million people whose data was stolen. But, soon after the news broke, I was notified that in fact my personal information was indeed hacked. Crap! So, I enrolled in identity theft protection and made sure that all of my bank accounts, emails, credit cards and social security number were loaded into the online ID theft protection program so that if there was any suspicious activities, I would get a notification. Yes, that’s right. My personal information was in an online database, and it was hacked. Then, in order to protect my personal information (including my financial information) from fraudulent activity, I had to enter said information into yet another online database. But the ID theft protection database is extra, extra secure. Sure.
This last week, news broke that the Yahoo data breach that affected 1 billion users in 2013 is actually much worse than it was first reported in December 2016. Seems that all 3 billion user accounts that existed in 2013 were impacted. As a Yahoo user, that makes the probability that I was affected at a solid 100%. And I just got the email confirming it. I’m an overachiever and always seek out that 100%. Except in this case. Good thing I have that ID theft protection now for my personal information that was stolen back in 2013.
Here’s this week’s financial fun fact: the chances are pretty good that at some point your personal or financial information will be stolen or compromised, including your date of birth, social security number, bank account numbers or credit card numbers. Need I mention the recent Equifax breach? There are a number of ways you can protect your identity, finances, and your credit:
- Manual account monitoring – check your bank and credit card accounts for any suspicious activity. The more often you check, to sooner you will find fraudulent activity. I try hard to stay on top of this, and thanks to Project Money, I’m much more aware of my account activity than I had been in the past.
- Manual credit monitoring – you can get your credit report for free every year from annualcreditreport.com. Just remember that a fraudulent account could go unnoticed because of the delay in time between when the fraudulent account was created and when you obtain your free credit report. All the more reason for manual account monitoring.
- Credit monitoring service – credit monitoring services costs can range from a few dollars to $25/month. If you rarely look at your bank or credit card accounts, this might be worth the cost for you.
- Identity theft insurance – this pays for some of the expenses that you could incur associated with restoring your identity. This insurance typically costs $25-$60/year and may include credit monitoring and other services.
- Change your passwords to your accounts. If you can’t remember the last time you changed your password to your email(s) and/or your bank or credit union’s online banking account, then it’s been too long.
I’m still waiting for the letter in the mail notifying me that my information was included in the 143 million records that were hacked. If past history is any indication of future events, then chances are I’m one of them. What do you do to protect your finances?