I initially reported to you in 2014 that the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was hacked by Chinese hackers who stole personal information of what we now know is 20 million federal employees, retirees and their family members. We later learned that the data breach consisted of two separate data breaches, both done by Chinese hackers. Responding to the data breaches, the OPM hired the company ID Experts to provide a number of identity theft protection services including up to five million dollars in identity theft insurance and call centers operating 12 hours a day, six days a week. The government contract with ID Experts is coming to an end and the contract is going out to bid at this time. It is possible that ID Expert will again win the contract and victims of the data breach will not have to re-enroll with a new identity theft protection company, but at the moment there is no indication when the government will make the decision as to which company will get hired to provide identity theft protection services to the victims, which Congress mandated must be provided for ten years after the data breach.
It is important to remember that no identity theft protection company can prevent you from becoming a victim of identity theft. The best they can do is notify you earlier that you have become a victim. None of the identity theft protection companies help you with the one best step you can take to protect yourself from identity theft which is to put a credit freeze on your credit reports. With a credit freeze on your credit reports at each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, even if someone has your personal information including your Social Security number, they cannot access your credit report for purposes of gaining credit or loans in your name. You can find information about how to put a credit freeze on your credit reports at each of the three major credit reporting agencies by going to the Search for Scams tab at the top of the first page of Scamicide and putting in the words “credit freeze.”
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