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ITRC Fact Sheet 129

It can be unnerving to be told that your information has been compromised in a breach. There are some steps you should take upon receiving a breach notification letter. Please note: Neither the police nor experts know if a breach incident will result in identity theft. Until you know otherwise, you are NOT an identity theft victim.

In fact, there have been millions of people notified that their information may have been breached who have not become victims. Studies have shown that the faster the breach information is made public, the less chance a thief will use the stolen data. However, thieves sometimes warehouse information, so it’s important to monitor monthly billing statements and your credit reports.

Your response to a breach will depend on the type of information that was compromised. Should you become a victim of identity theft, help is just a phone call or email away.

Social Security Numbers

Call the credit reporting agencies. These are automated and secure systems. Pick the option for fraud and follow the prompts. This will place a free 90-day fraud alert on your credit reports. For more information on fraud alerts, read Fact Sheet FS 124.

The credit reporting agencies will send you a confirmation letter with instructions on how to get a copy of your credit report at no charge. It is free because your information was breached and you are a potential victim of identity theft.

Do the following for any person whose Social Security Number (SSN) was compromised:

  • If the SSN belongs to a child read ITRC Fact Sheet FS 120A – To Order a Child’s Credit Report for instructions on what to do.
  • If the SSN belongs to somebody who is deceased read ITRC Fact Sheet FS 117 – Identity Theft and the Deceased, Prevention and Victim Tips for instructions on what to do.

We recommend that you call all agencies and not just one. Check your report carefully for any irregularities. Sometimes people see errors on the report that pre-date the breach. If so, contact the police and the ITRC for assistance.

Use the annual credit reports system,, to monitor your credit report over the next year. Stagger them throughout the year by ordering one every four months.

Read ITRC Solution SN 27 if you suspect or are told that your information may have been compromised or used for the purposes of tax fraud.

Financial Account Numbers

This includes checking accounts, credit cards, money market funds, stocks, and bank accounts:

  • Close ONLY the affected accounts and have account numbers changed.
  • Password-protect all your accounts, the new ones as well as the closed. This restricts thieves from re-opening closed accounts.
  • Monitor your account and billing statements closely.
  • Report any fraudulent activity immediately to the bank and law enforcement.


  • If your auto or medical insurance policy information is involved, ask the company about their policy to protect compromised policies.
  • If it is HR data that was compromised, change account numbers for your 401-K, life insurance, and accounts holding your stock options. Password-protect these accounts.
  • Driver’s Licenses – contact your state Department/Bureau of Motor Vehicles and notify them of the theft. They most likely will not change your number.

Other Resources:

The Federal Trade Commission has an excellent website with information on data breaches and other consumer issues –

Their hotline number is (877) 438-4338.


This fact sheet should not be used in lieu of legal advice. Any requests to reproduce this material, other than by individual victims for their own use, should be directed to