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Data breach still a headache for Home Depot

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If your personal information is put at risk in a company breach, there are steps to take to protect yourself, says Trey Loughran, chief marketing officer at Equifax.

1. Retain letter or email notifications of a breach. Many businesses offer free identity theft monitoring services after a breach, and you should take advantage of it if they do.

2. Contact the three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnionPlace — and place a fraud alert or credit freeze on your card. Fraud alerts protect against new account fraud by requiring any credit grantor to take extra steps to verify your identity. A credit freeze prevents credit grantors from accessing your credit report altogether, so they would need to be lifted if you need to access credit for a major purchase down the road.

3. Speak with appropriate creditors or banks associated with the breached company and either close those accounts or take your bank’s recommended steps.

4. Monitor bank account statements and credit reports to look for unusual activity, keeping in mind identity thieves may not use your personal information right away.

5. Seek a copy of your credit report. Consumers are entitled under law to receive a free annual credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies at www.annualcreditreport.com.

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