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CALL 11 FOR ACTION: Helping you pick up the pieces after a data breach

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COLUMBUS, OH (Toledo News Now) -

Following the announcement of the recent security breach affecting Target customers, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is offering advice for individuals who may be affected by the breach.

"Security breaches are a cause for concern, but it's important not to panic," said DeWine. "Just because your information has been compromised does not necessarily mean you will become the victim of identity theft. Nevertheless, it's important to take proactive steps to identify potential problems and take corrective action as quickly as possible."

DeWine said that those who have been affected by a security breach can take the following steps to protect themselves:

-Check your credit card and debit card accounts regularly. Monitor your accounts to look for suspicious activity, such as charges you don't remember making. If you find any errors, immediately notify your credit or debit card provider.

-Place an initial fraud alert on your credit report. Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion — to place an initial fraud alert, which will stay on your credit report for 90 days. The alert is free of charge and will make it more difficult for someone to open credit in your name. 

-Consider placing a security freeze on your credit report. A security freeze essentially puts a lock on your credit so that most third parties can't access your report. This will help protect you from unauthorized accounts being opened in your name. In Ohio, security freezes are permanent until you lift them. There is a $5 fee per credit reporting agency to place the freeze and to remove it each time you apply for credit. Contact each credit reporting agency to place or to learn more about a security freeze.   

-Check your credit report. You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. You can pull all three at once, or you can stagger pulling your reports throughout the year. 

Individuals who find evidence of identity theft, such as fraudulent credit card charges, credit reporting errors, or unauthorized accounts, should contact the Ohio Attorney General's Identity Theft Unit by calling 800-282-0515. The Identity Theft Unit helps victims rectify the effects of identity theft.

More information is available at the Ohio Attorney General's website, or by calling 800-282-0515.

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