A New Way to Protect Against Identity Theft

July 2, 2015, Written By John H. Oldshue
Your Card is Hacked words on a 3d credit card to illustrate identity theft or money stolen

Another day and another data breach. Actually, two of them.

Trump Hotel Properties and Harvard University both announced recently they had possible breaches of their databases, exposing customers and students to identity theft.

Significant data breaches are happening almost every week, and that may have you wondering if you are a victim of a data breach you might not even know about. According to a recent study, consumers want to know if they have been affected by a data breach and feel companies may not be informing them as quickly as possible. Now, there is a quick and free way for consumers to find out.

With HaveIBeenPwned.com, you simply enter your e-mail and the service searches through the data that has been revealed in most of the major data breaches to determine if you are at risk. You can even set up an alert to contact you if the site ever discovers your email in a future data breach.

The term “Pwned” is a slang term for somebody who has been owned or dominated by somebody else, and was the result of a misspelling by a programmer in the game World of Warcraft.

There are some things you can do to protect yourself from hackers.

Passwords with just a word, three numbers and a symbol can reportedly be broken in one second by hackers with sophisticated software. But the same hackers will need one week if the password includes just one uppercase letter.

Also, get a password manager like Dashlane, Qwertycards or LastPass. You can then use a random combination of letters, symbols and numbers that would take a supercomputer months to figure out. You may not be able to remember all your random passwords–that is where a password manager can help. They remember the passwords for you, and enter them when you visit a website.

Last, but most important: freeze your credit if you have been hacked. If your credit is frozen, a criminal cannot do much damage. Yes, they might be able to get enough info to use your bank account, but it is a long shot. Most of the time, they want to open a credit card in your name and run up a big bill. A credit freeze will stop them in their tracks. A credit freeze will not let your credit report be sent out unless you give permission. So when the the thief applies for a credit card, the credit card company can’t get your credit report, and therefore will refuse to issue a credit card. Be sure to freeze your credit at all three major credit bureaus. In most states, it is free but it may cost up to $10 in some states. Here are the links to start a credit freeze at each bureau: EquifaxExperian and TransUnion.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of July 2, 2015. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.