Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today advised consumers to take steps to protect their personal information following the announcement Friday by the Marriott hotel chain that its reservation system had been hacked, potentially exposing the personal information of more than 500 million people.
“This large-scale data breach is yet another reminder of the importance of protecting our own personal information,” Schmidt said. “While we work to learn more about what happened in this data breach, consumers who may have been affected should take steps to protect themselves from becoming victims of identity theft.”
Schmidt offered the following tips for protecting your personal information:
Check your credit report. Monitoring your credit report can help you identify signs of potential identity theft. You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com to access those reports. You can pull all three at once, or you can stagger pulling your reports throughout the year.
Place a fraud alert on your credit report. Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion — to place an initial fraud alert, which will stay on your credit report for a year – or seven years if you have been the victim of identity theft and provide a copy of an identity theft complaint made to law enforcement. Fraud alerts are free of charge and will make it more difficult for someone to open credit in your name by requiring creditors to take additional steps to verify your identity.
Consider placing a security freeze on your credit report. A security freeze essentially puts a lock on your credit so that most third parties can’t access your report. This helps protect you from unauthorized accounts being opened in your name. Since July 1, 2018, security freezes have been free for all Kansans.
Beware of scams related to the breach. Con artists may pretend to have information about the breach or they may falsely claim to want to help you. Some calls or messages may be scams designed to steal your money or personal information. Don’t give out personal information to those who contact you unexpectedly (even if they say they want to help you) and be wary about clicking on links or downloading attachments in messages.
Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts. Look for suspicious activity. If you find errors, immediately notify your bank or credit provider.
When it’s tax season, consider filing early. File your taxes as soon as you have all of the information necessary to file so that there is less of a chance for someone to fraudulently file on your behalf. This is especially important if you know your information has been compromised.
More information, including how to request a security freeze, is available on the attorney general’s consumer protection website at www.InYourCornerKansas.org.