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Why you may need more than a credit freeze to protect you from Equifax breach


Your credit is frozen. You are checking your credit reports and monitoring account balances. Maybe everyone in your family has done the same. But if you think you're safe from the fallout of the Equifax data breach, think again.

Consumer Reports warns that you need to do more than just freeze your credit to prevent identity thieves from possibly creating chaos in your life .

Equifax data thieves have so much information they may be able to steal your identity in ways that extend far beyond credit. Atlantans have expressed concerns about everything from thieves stealing their Social Security benefits or dipping into their retirement savings, all of which may be valid concerns.

Here are some of the other areas that experts at Consumer Reports said may be vulnerable:

Health Insurance: Data from the Equifax breach may make it easier for thieves to use private insurance, medicare or medicaid benefits to pay for their own treatments and medications. Check your medical records early before your medical data is compromised. Many providers offer online patient portals that can make it easier to check your records. Sign up and view records regularly to see if there are providers or medications listed that you don't use or treatments that you have never had. Do the same with your health insurer to review your explanation of benefits as well as sign up for fraud alerts.

You can also request a free annual MIB Consumer File , which contains medical and personal information about you reported by health, life, disability, and other member insurers. The Milliman Intelliscript  report tracks your prescription drug purchases and can also be requested annually. Finally, you may also want to request a free annual “accounting of disclosures” from health plans and medical providers.

Tax Refunds: Because Georgia is a high tax-related identity theft area, residents can get an Identity Protection PIN from the IRS. The code must be filed with your return in order for it to be accepted. This six-digit number prevents ID thieves from filing fraudulent returns but it is not reversible. Once you sign up for a pin, you must use it on all tax related information.

Drivers license: Driver's license numbers were also part of the data breach at Equifax. Thieves can take your number, create a fake license and stick you with their moving violations. They might also use the number to write bad checks as drivers's license numbers are often used to verify identity. Get a copy of your driving record from the Georgia Department of Driver Services. To find out if you have any bad information associated with your social security or driver's license number request a free annual report from the top three check verification services ChexSystems Certegy , and  TeleCheck


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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.