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AG offers tips in light of data breaches

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WISH) – French Lick Resort is just the latest in a long list of data breaches around Indy in 2014.

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office provided statistics that show 395 separate data breaches and that they have received more than 1,300 complaints of identity theft.

The AG’s office has also recommended the 2015 legislature pass a bill that would tighten Indiana laws governing data collection. A first step in putting more responsibility on companies to clean up data periodically. The hope being: if they are compromised at some point, the breach won’t be as large as it could be, otherwise.

“The key to identity theft is to take more control of your credit” explains Attorney General Greg Zoeller. “So these credit freezes that our office provides are easy ways to keep people from accessing your credit reports and opening up new lines of credit.”

Credit freezes, or security freezes, are a consumer right provided by state law. A freeze would keep new creditors from accessing your report with your permission. Even if a thief had your social security number, they couldn’t take out credit in your name. According to the AG’s website, you can also lift the freeze for a certain period of time or for a certain party, and it won’t lower your credit score.

Zoeller also advises people who could be vulnerable to keep a close eye on their accounts.

“Use of a credit card is an insured transaction,” he says. “So if there are problems with it, it’s the credit card company that pays.”

Zoeller says there are some people who are charging less and avoiding places where breaches have happened. He says avoiding places, like French Lick Resort, aren’t the solution.

“This is going to happen, and people need to recognize, protect yourself on the front end, and then also of you are a victim of identity theft there are ways we can help you,” said Zoeller

The Attorney General’s Identity Theft Unit was created in 2008 for exactly that reason. Experts within the office can walk victims through the process.

“You can go to court and be adjudicated as a victim of identity theft. That helps clean up what has been a really hard process to keep creditors and debt companies from calling you,” said Zoeller

According to the AG’s statistics from 2014, over $679,000 was returned to Hoosiers who were the victims of identity theft or data breaches.

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