New tools coming to help battle identity theft

Posted at 5:36 AM, Aug 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-24 11:32:47-04

Families across Oceanside are checking their credit card statements after a possible data beach at city hall.

Now, a local nonprofit organization is launching free tools that can help more families protect their money in the future

The Identity Theft Resource Center just signed a deal with Experian, a major credit reporting bureau, to bring online tools to a wider audience. The announcement comes in the wake of Oceanside’s possible data breach, with families who paid their utility bills online being told to place fraud alerts on their credit files and get copies of their reports.

For Nadine Scott, it was a $17 Lyft ride and $300 at Home Depot. Another  family got hit with a $50 iTunes charge. And one man said a thief charged nearly $700 at a barbeque store.

“She pulled up the transaction and she had my name, my address, I was really disturbed by that,” he said.

It's unclear how much personal information the hackers got. But the Identity Theft Resource Center has a variety of information for people to protect themselves. That includes things like not storing your information like Social Security Numbers and tax returns on your computer, being careful with pop-up ads, and making sure you don’t open unfamiliar files you may have downloaded.

Those are the kind of lessons that will be expanded with Experian.

They'll teach things like not storing your social security number and tax returns on your computer  - and turning it off when you're not using it. 

“Victims of identity theft and concerned consumers need more resources in order to handle this complex problem,” said Eva Velasquez, the center’s director. “By working together we will increase the public access to (the center’s) no-cost resources that they otherwise would not have known were available to them.”

While placing a 90 day fraud alert on your credit report is free - extra monitoring services can cost $20 a month. And that's money you may be able to keep - by learning what to watch for in advance.

You’re not responsible for fraudulent charges on your card.

The new tools should be up within the next couple of months.