Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Red Alert

Since the beginning of the year, we've been notified of security breaches with our bank, our insurance agent, a doctor's office I hadn't been to since 2015, and now ATT.

Some of these companies offered free monitoring through one source or another. We signed up for them.

Last night, my husband received a notice that his Social Security number was on the dark web (whatever that is), and along with this information was a list of other information available with his number.

The problem was the other information wasn't his information. It was someone else entirely.

After a 50-minute wait on the phone, my husband got an agent with the monitoring company, who told him that the criminals on the dark web create names and addresses to go with the Social Security number, and then sell that information for who-knows-what nefarious purposes.

And there was nothing they could do, the agent said. We could only take some precautions that were already outlined in the email that alerted him to this potential problem.

This morning, I spent several hours first reviewing our credit reports and then implementing credit freezes and fraud alerts on our information. I keep up with this stuff fairly well anyway, but this was an engrossing detailed look at everything. It was a pain in the butt, but I am happy to report that I didn't find anything amiss.

But that doesn't mean something couldn't be amiss a little further down the road.

There is no escaping this kind of thing in this country, because we have politicians who do not believe in regulating companies so that they would have to say, actually implement good hacker protection on their accounts. It is beyond comprehension to me to know that my bank was hacked, for example. The bank should have better protection. Plus, they didn't even offer any monitoring. They just sent a letter that said too bad, so sad, your tough luck. 

My insurance company and ATT should have had better protection, too. However, I guess they saved money so that 73 million of us could now worry about whether or not our credit or our good name was being stolen.

Sometimes, your name is all you have. You shouldn't have to defend it, yet here we are.

In any event, we must all be diligent. Things are falling apart, and we must take care. Watch our backs, so to speak. Maybe watch your friends' backs, too.

Here are steps you can take to protect yourself:

1. Create a mySocial Security account with the Social Security Administration to claim your SSN and prevent others from doing so.
2. Review your earnings on your Social Security Statement to ensure accuracy.
3. Obtain free credit reports from annualcreditreport.com and check for unrecognized accounts or charges.
4. Monitor your bank and credit card accounts regularly for any unauthorized transactions.
5. Set up a fraud alert by contacting one of the major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion.
6. Consider a credit freeze with the three credit bureaus, which makes it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name.
7. Additionally, it’s important to update your passwords and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for an added layer of security. If you suspect any fraudulent activity, report it to the authorities immediately.

For more detailed guidance, you may want to consult with a professional who specializes in identity theft protection and recovery. However, I don't have any idea how to find one of those professionals and neither does anyone else, I suspect. If you know, let me in on the secret, please!

1 comment:

  1. I got the same notice from ATT. I have been a victim of SS fraud for years and have monitoring. Bur some things slip through and I have to clean up the mess. A lot of theft and dark web is from other countries. There are people out there that are just evil and will do anything to make money and ruin people's lives. I need to go to Experian and make sure my credit is still locked, even from me!


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