The Identity Theft Resource Center has been receiving hundreds of calls regarding a specific data breach notification letter from a debt collection law firm in the state of Florida. The letter was sent to people who may have had their personally identifiable information (PII) exposed, detailing the cause of the exposure, the firm's response, and some tips for people to protect themselves.

The letter explains that a former employee may have possibly viewed people's names, addresses, date of birth, driver's license number, and/or Social Security number. The letter stresses that the firm does not believe that people's personally identifiable information was used to inappropriately obtain or use their credit, but "out of an abundance of caution" wanted to inform people of the possible exposure of their data so they could take proactive measures to minimize their risk of identity theft or fraud.

The firm's letter recommended some actions for recipients to take including continuously obtaining credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies, reporting any inaccuracies to creditors and the credit reporting agencies, and placing security alerts on credit reports. Lastly, the firm recommended that recipients of the letter call the ITRC for additional information and support services.

The ITRC is not in any way affiliated with said firm, but is always available to help victims and potential victims of identity theft and related fraud. The steps outlined for people to protect themselves in the letter are great first steps, but we at the ITRC would like to provide some additional steps people can take to dramatically minimize their risk of identity theft and fraud.

If you are a recipient of this data breach notification letter:

  1. Call the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion) and request a 90 day alert be placed on your credit.
  2. Request your annual free credit report from each of the aforementioned credit bureaus and review them for any inaccuracies. Should you find any inaccuracies please call the Identity Theft Resource Center at our toll-free number, (888) 400-5530, so one of our experienced Identity Theft Victim Advisors can personally assist you in resolving them.
  3. If you do find any inaccuracies, call the three credit bureaus and request a security freeze be placed on your credit. This may cost a nominal fee depending on the state that you are in and does not allow new credit lines to be processed until you personally unfreeze your credit. Even if you do not find any inaccuracies, you may want to consider putting a security freeze on your credit as a precautionary measure.
  4. File your tax returns as early as possible to avoid an identity thief filing a tax return under your name in order to receive fraudulent tax refunds.
  5. Contact the Social Security Administration and request your wage report to ensure that an identity thief has not reported fraudulent wages which you may have to pay taxes on if not resolved.
  6. For more details on what to do if you have received a data breach notification letter, please read our ITRC Fact Sheet FS 129.

Regardless of whether you have reason to believe your personally identifiable information has been exposed or not, it is always a good idea to be proactive about protecting your identity. Monitor your credit reports and properly dispose of or protect your personal information. Visit us at www.IDTheftCenter.org for more information about identity theft, fraud and what you can do to protect yourself.

If you found this information helpful, you may want to consider taking part in the Identity Theft Resource Center's Anyone3 fundraising campaign.  For more information or to donate please visit http://www.idtheftcenter.org/anyone-3

 

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