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Lessons and stories from the front lines of fighting identity theft.


After a Data Breach: How Long Should I Be Concerned?

May 18

Data security breaches are a growing epidemic that puts ever-escalating numbers of people at risk for identity theft each year. Cyber criminals are getting smarter and more brazen, and they’re a very patient lot. Many know how companies typically respond once they discover the security of their customer information has been breached, and they react accordingly. Often, the first thing companies do publicly after announcing discovery of a breach is to suggest that those impacted place a 90-day initial security alert on their credit report. These alerts warn creditors that the individual may have been a victim of identity theft, and to not extend new credit to the individual during that time frame, without taking extra steps to verify their identity.

Since identity thieves know the business-as-usual approach, they simply wait beyond those protected 90 days to begin to try to defraud consumers or sell their information to third parties, so it’s important that victims take precautions to outwit patient criminals and protect their information on an ongoing basis after a breach.

What can you do to stay ahead of savvy scammers and black market data merchants? Consider this two-pronged approach to help you be vigilant:

  • Review your credit report regularly.
    Patrol your report for early indicators of fraudulent activity. These might include inquiries from companies where you never applied for credit, or an account open in your name that you don’t know about. If you spot anything you think is unusual, inquire with the creditor, file a police report, and add a victim statement to your credit report. A victim statement remains on your report for seven years. It tells creditors and the credit bureaus that you were a victim of identity theft or fraud and it requests that lenders contact you personally before extending any new credit in your name.
  • Consider a credit monitoring product.
    When you select this solution, credit monitoring scans your report information daily and notifies you whenever anyone requests a copy of your credit report, or if any other type of potentially suspicious activity occurs. Being regularly engaged with this information not only allows you to see how the changes you make are reflected in your report, it can give you a head start on truly dark activity that you didn’t initiate, alerting you as soon as the information hits your report.

Data breaches can happen to even the most cautious consumers, but being proactive not only trains your eye to what kind of activity is unusual within your own credit report, it helps keep you closely engaged when alarming information is first detected. Protecting your personal information is also vital, but sometimes it’s not enough – especially in the world of data breaches and hacks – but reviewing your credit report regularly and monitoring your credit can give you additional peace of mind that you’re doing all you can. You’ve worked hard for your money – don’t let thieves enjoy the fruits of your labor.

About the Author: Ash Cash is a business consultant, motivational speaker, financial expert and the author of “Mind Right, Money Right: 10 Laws of Financial Freedom,” and “What the FICO: 12 Steps to Repairing Your Credit.”

Follow Ash Cash on Twitter and Google+.

This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.

Published by permission from, Inc., an Experian company. © 2015, Inc. All rights reserved.