What nationwide data breaches mean for you, and how to protect your identity

(SBG photo)

EUGENE, Ore. -- There have been several data breaches nationwide in the past few years and for many, that means personal information might have gotten into the wrong hands - specifically, your social security number.

Your SSN is used for almost everything in your life, such as getting a job or using a bank. So what happens if that special nine-digit code gets stolen?

For Dennis Monen, this is no longer a question of 'if,' but rather a question of 'how.'

For Monen, it's a waiting game as he checks his accounts daily. Scammers were able to scam him into giving up his information to them over the phone.

"It just happened so fast and I thought it was all legit," said Monen. "I might call one day and there won't be any funds on the card."

Monen has completed step one in the recovery process - notifying both Medicare and Social Security.

Eugene Police Crime Prevention Specialist Debbie Janacek has this advice for those who have their identity stolen: file a police report, then run the report to make sure it looks right.

"The next thing I can recommend he do is perhaps put a credit freeze on his credit report," said Janacek. "If you are a victim of identity theft, a credit freeze does not cost anything."

At this point, it could be days, even months before Monen sees something suspicious on his account or through credit card statements.

Starting next April, Medicare will send out all new cards to recipients, without social security numbers on them. But for now, it's a waiting game for Monen to find out if he's a victim of identity theft.

Janacek says you can also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission, and they have a step-by-step guide on what to do once your identity is compromised.

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