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Freeze Your Credit Report:
Notify the three credit reporting firms and put a freeze on your credit report, which means potential creditors cannot get your credit report. That makes it less likely an identity thief can open new accounts in your name. There may be a small fee associated with freezing your credit report. You can remove the freeze temporarily or permanently by contacting each of the three firms.
Get a Copy of Your Credit Report
After freezing your credit report, ask the three credit reporting firms for a free copy; you're entitled to free reports once you post a fraud alert or put a freeze on your account. Read the reports carefully to see whether fraudulent transactions or accounts are listed, and then take steps to correct those errors.
If you find erroneous transactions or accounts, you will have to contact the fraud departments of the credit reporting firms as well as the businesses involved, explaining the error and your situation.
Always Be Vigilant
[Last] week's hacking breach was the latest in a string of major online security breaches. Most notably, late last year millions of credit card numbers and other personal data were stolen from retail giant Target by Eastern European hackers.
This latest breach, perhaps the largest ever of its kind, targeted websites of both large and small companies as well as individuals.
Security experts stress that consumers should be vigilant even when a breach hasn't been reported and urge common sense when it comes to personal data.
For instance, do not write down or store passwords electronically. Be aware that any passwords stored electronically (such as in a word processing document or cellphone's notepad) can be easily stolen and provide cybercriminals with all your sensitive information.
If you hand-write passwords, do not store them in plain sight. Along the same lines, do not post any sensitive information on social media.
Avoid sharing your passwords with anyone, or revealing the answers to your security questions.
© 2014 Los Angeles Times (CA) under contract with NewsEdge. All rights reserved.