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Ways people may be vulnerable after a credit freeze

Florida residents may have been impacted by the Equifax breach that may make them and others vulnerable to identity theft or other fraud. In response, some may choose to put a freeze on their credit reports. However, this may not offer the level of protection that an individual may believe it does. While it may be difficult for new accounts to be opened in a person's name, it is still possible for fraud to occur on existing accounts.

To protect against fraud on existing accounts, it may be best to set up account alerts or use multi-factor authentication. If a criminal has a person's Social Security number, it may be possible to commit what is known as medical identity theft. In such a scenario, a scammer will obtain care under another person's name, and that person may become responsible for any bills incurred.

Employment identity theft may also occur. This is when a fraudster uses another person's Social Security number to obtain work, and this may have an impact on Social Security earnings. If someone obtains an individual's Social Security number, it may be possible to file tax returns in that person's name. The IRS will likely reject second or subsequent returns filed by a taxpayer, and the best defense against tax fraud is to file a return as early as possible.

Those who are having financial problems related to medical debt or other credit issues may wish to file for bankruptcy. Doing so may make it possible to have debts discharged or restructured. By filing, an individual may receive a stay from creditor activity such as phone calls or planned lawsuits. This may make it easier to find debt relief while possibly retaining property in the process.

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