BEND, OR -- It’s been about a month since hackers accessed the personal information of 3.5 million Oregonians through a data breach at the DMV. While the release of driver and ID cardholder information was made public in mid-June, it likely occurred in late May, which means criminals have had plenty of time to use the data.
Kyle Frick, with Mid-Oregon Credit Union, says requesting a credit freeze is one way to protect your information, "There are three credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. So, when you freeze your credit - a security freeze - basically, you’re just saying they’re not going to open any new accounts on your credit report."
At the time, state officials suggested Oregonians consider freezing their credit, to prevent scammers from opening accounts. But it may not be the best option for everyone. "It does not hurt your credit at all," Frick tells KBND News, "But, what it does is, then you have to unfreeze it if you have to go apply for credit. So, you can imagine you can go through this process of freezing your credit, but then you have to go back to the credit reporting agencies and unfreeze your credit to do a car loan or a credit card, or any type of new account that you’re opening." And, he says that can be hassle, or even delay your loan or credit application, "Sometimes people freeze their credit and then they go and want to do something like buy a new car, and they’re like going, ‘Oh yeah; I forgot I froze my credit.’ So, there’s that whole additional process that they have to go through."
If you expect you'll need a new account soon, Frick suggests checking with your financial institution. Many banks and credit card companies offer free tools that alert you of a new account, "So then you can actually monitor it, you can manage it yourself; you can do those things. But, the credit reporting bureaus aren’t always super fast in responding to your request that you have to give them to do a freeze, and then an unfreeze and a refreeze, and going back and forth."
If you think you are a victim of ID theft, report it immediately to the Federal Trade Commission at IdentityTheft.gov.