I was a data breach victim. What should I do?

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Q. I received a notice about a data breach and my Social Security number and address were exposed. What should I do?
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A. Data breaches seem to happen every day. It’s pretty safe to assume your information, one way or another, isn’t so private anymore.

A credit freeze is a very important tool to protect your finances.

It blocks identity thieves from opening new credit cards and other accounts in your name.

The disadvantage is that if you apply for credit, you will need to unfreeze the accounts, at least temporarily.

But that’s easy.

The big three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — all allow you to set a start date and an end date to lift your freeze. You will have to lift the freeze separately with each of the bureaus.

In terms of the breach itself, if the company is offering you free credit monitoring, you may as well take it. Should something awful happen to you with identity theft, it may have some resources to help that would otherwise cost you money.

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This story was originally published in May 2024.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.