A Sickening New Development in Identity Theft – And a Cure
Fort Lauderdale, FL — Last week, Chinese hackers stole the medical identities of 4.5 million Americans when they cracked the database of Community Health Systems (CYH) – the nation’s largest provider of rural and suburban healthcare.
CYH operates in 28 states, so this theft was not only broad but deep. It included patient names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, and telephone numbers. This is just the latest big company to get hit. Nearly 15 million Americans are victims of identity theft each year, costing the nation $50 billion.
“Identity theft is no different than any other type of crime – you never think it’ll happen to you,” says Howard Dvorkin, CPA and Chairman of Debt.com. “Just like any other type of crime, you can take precautions.”
Debt.com offers a free Identity Theft Learning Center that tells Americans how to protect themselves from both the latest scams such as social media ID theft to the old standbys of pilfering Social Security numbers. You can even sign up for an ID theft protection service brought to you by Debt.com. “Whatever you do,” Dvorkin says, “do something. Doing nothing makes you a target.”
What to do if your identity is stolen:
- Contact creditors. Place an alert on credit cards that will mandate that you will be contacted before any charges are processed.
- Report a copy of transactions of potential fraudulent charges.
- Notify each of the credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, TransUnion that your identity has been compromised.
- Place a fraud alert that will prevent any new accounts from being opened in your name. This also blocks you from receiving prescreened credit offers.
- Be aware that placing an alert on your credit reports can affect your ability to apply and receive new lines of credit. Creditors or lenders will be required to follow a strict set of procedures once your identity has been at risk.
- Once identity theft becomes an issue, you are allowed an extra free copy of your credit report that year to check for fraud.