More data breaches mean you should check your credit report

Consumer Report

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Do you worry about the safety of your personal financial information? Most of us may try not to, but word is that data breaches are at an all-time high.

The Consumer Federation of American (CFA) says there were more than 6,500 data breaches in 2018 and “thousands more this year”. It says the threat of hackers stealing your information “has never been higher.”

We’re all being urged to pay attention to our online accounts and stay vigilant in terms of basic security measures. That includes changing passwords frequently, not using simple passwords (like password of 1,2,3,4) and using multi-step authentication for accounts (two passwords for example.)

CFA also says a critical step is to check your credit report once a year. It’s free from each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).

Jack Gillis, executive director of CFS said they are seeing a trend that is disturbing, i.e. that the number of consumers who believe it’s important to check their credit report has declined from 82 percent in 2012 to 67 percent in 2019.

He says one reason is apparently that in 2012, the economy was still somewhat in flux and many people were facing challenges with credit card and mortgage debt. A check of their credit scores was being done more often because people were concerned about retaining a decent credit score.

Gillis says as personal finances have improved, consumers seem to have become less vigilant. “The problem is that with the increase in data breaches, it’s never been more important to keep a watchful eye on your credit reports,” says Gillis.

You can go to annualcreditreport.com which is the only free service authorized by the federal government.

You can also call 1-877-322-8228, or you can complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

In terms of your credit report, it’s advised that you don’t contact the credit reporting companies individually. They are providing free annual credit reports only through annualcreditreport.com, 1-877-322-8228 or mailing to Annual Credit Report Request Service.

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