How to protect yourself from identity theft

DAVENPORT-- Almost 143 million Americans had their personal information exposed after a data breach from Equifax.

That's almost half the population and the chances of those affected being in Iowa and Illinois are very likely.

During a presentation on what to do if you've been hacked at the Davenport Library, many Quad Citians shared their concerns.

"We have to be aware in this age of technology," says attendee Mona Martin.

Although Martin wasn't hacked, she's looking for answers on how to make sure it stays that way. Her questions were answered by Certified Public Accountant Douglis Reiling of CPA Oelerich and Associates.

"Once people have that data available, they can take and use it for things like opening new credit cards in someone else's name with a few simple tricks they rack up debt in someone elses account," says Reiling.

If your personal information has been hacked, Reiling recommends signing up for free Identity theft protection with Equifax.

"Probably the most common question I got today was how did Equifax do this and why should I trust to help it(...) simply the damage is already done they already have this data out there. Turning down free help from somebody who is trying to make it right probably isn't in your best interest," says Reiling.

But Reiling says if you are still a little skeptical to try a different website.

Other tips included are

  • Freeze accounts with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion
  • Set up transaction alerts on bank and other accounts
  • Change passwords
  • Monitor accounts frequently
  • Check your credit score

"All people need to do is go through them line by line and make sure there's nothing on there that shouldn't be on there," says Reiling.

With the constant change in technology, Reiling says it's possible for more data hacks in the future.

"Hacking is apparently going to be a part of our society now and I think we all need to learn how to deal with it, cope and move forward," says Reiling.

In this new age, people need to be aware of hackers and always be two steps ahead of them.

"It's part of the new information technology age. The internet the world wide web...we are all more connected and therefore more at risk," says Martin.