There have been several recent headlines about data breaches involving the personal information of consumers. Often the information at risk involves names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and personal addresses. A breach may also involve driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers.

Steps to take to help protect yourself after a data breach:

  • Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it difficult for someone to open a new account in your name. If you choose to place a freeze, consider doing so with all three major credit reporting agencies.
  • Credit freezes are free of charge, and in order to place a freeze on your credit report, you must contact each of the major consumer reporting agencies directly and identify yourself to them. A credit freeze prevents companies from viewing your credit report if they are considering granting credit unless you prove to them that you are who you say you are. It can help protect you from identity thieves who are trying to open a credit account in your name. The consumer reporting agencies are not permitted to charge you any fee to place or lift the freeze. You should know that if you plan to apply for credit when you have a freeze in place, there may be a delay in processing your credit application while you request that the credit freeze be lifted. If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify the identity of anyone seeking credit in your name. Be certain to renew your fraud alert periodically—they may expire after a certain length of time.
  • Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely. If you see transactions or charges on your accounts that you do not recognize, contact your credit-card company or bank immediately and inform them of the fraudulent charges.
  • Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion by visiting One report is free from each credit reporting agency each year. Credit reports are free for identity theft victims who have filed a police report. Accounts or activity that you do not recognize may indicate Identity Theft.
    • If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, The Missouri Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline is available to assist consumers in reporting identity theft. Missourians can reach the hotline at 800-392-8222 or file a complaint online. More information is available on our website.
    • Additional information, including sample form letters for disputes and steps to take if you are a victim of identity theft, is included in this free publication offered by the Office of the Attorney General.

ID Theft Hotline 800-392-8222