CONSUMER ALERT: Additional Ways to Protect Yourself Following Equifax Data Breach
ATLANTA, GA - Attorney General Chris Carr today announced additional ways consumers can protect themselves following the Equifax data breach.
"In the wake of the Equifax data breach, it’s important to consider steps you can take to minimize your risk of identity theft," said Attorney General Chris Carr. "Credit freezes are a first step; however, that won’t protect you from all the possible implications of this hack. In addition to freezing your credit and monitoring your accounts, we are encouraging Georgians to take the following measures to protect themselves from this breach.”
Tax Refunds – Crooks can use your Social Security number to file taxes in your name and steal your tax refund. Filing as soon as you can – before an identity thief can do so – is a great protective measure. Additionally, Georgians can protect their federal tax refund from identity thieves by obtaining an Identity Protection PIN from the IRS. The PIN must be provided when you file your taxes in order for the return to be accepted. Without knowledge of that PIN number, an identity thief cannot file a fraudulent return. Important Note: You cannot opt-out once you have an Identity Protection PIN. You must use the PIN number to confirm your identity on all federal tax returns you file this year and in future tax years.
If you have been the victim of tax identity fraud, contact your local IRS office using the Taxpayer Assistance Center Office Locator.
Social Security – If identity thieves have enough personal information about you – including your Social Security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name and information from your credit report – they can register as you by creating a “my Social Security” account on the Social Security Administration’s website. If they successfully change your address to theirs, your Social Security benefits, once you are eligible, could be sent to their address. To protect yourself, create a “my Social Security” account, if you haven’t already done so. If you do have an account already, it’s a good idea to log-in to confirm that your address and other information are correct.
If you suspect or learn that someone is stealing your benefits, contact the Social Security Administration right away.
Health Insurance – An identity thief may be able to access your health insurance account and use it to get coverage for his or her own medical care and prescriptions. To protect yourself from medical identity fraud:
- Review your health insurance bills and statements carefully to make sure you are not being charged for services you did not receive. If you find an error, contact your insurance provider’s anti-fraud department immediately.
- Check your credit reports regularly to see if there are any medical collection items you do not recognize.
- Register with your insurance provider’s online portal so you can easily view Explanations of Benefits and see who the service providers were.
- If available, sign up for fraud alerts from your insurance provider so you can be notified via text or email of any benefit payments.
- Review your free annual MIB Consumer File to see what medical and personal information about you has been reported by health, life, disability and other member insurers. You can track your prescription drug purchase history by requesting a copy of your Milliman Intelliscript report.
Driver’s License - If an identity thief uses your driver’s license number to create a fake license, any moving violations or failures to appear in court the person commits could be attributed to you. This could lead to misapplied suspensions to your driver’s license and arrest warrants issued in your name. To protect yourself:
- Create an online account with the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) at dds.georgia.gov so you can check your driving history periodically for any discrepancies or notices of changes to your record. A copy of your driving history can be printed free of charge when you view it online. You can also request a certified copy of your Driving History Report from the DDS. The cost is $6.00 for a 3-year history report and $8.00 for a 7-year history report. A DDS mobile app with the ability to send notifications to your phone when additions or changes are made to your driving history will be available for download early 2018.
- If someone has used your driver’s license fraudulently, file a report with your local police department. A police report indicating suspicion of actual theft of the driver’s license or ID card or a police report indicating specific incidents of actual fraud is required to process a request to change your driver’s license or identification card number. DDS only changes driver’s license and identification card numbers under very limited circumstances. DDS does not issue new driver’s license numbers preventatively.
- For advice on clearing criminal charges from your driving record, visit the Identity Theft Resource Center.