AUGUSTA, Maine — Because of several recent large data breaches, Attorney General William J. Schneider issued a statement Thursday cautioning Mainers to be on the lookout for the possibility of scam emails asking them to confirm their private financial information.
“These data breaches may have provided scammers with the opportunity to try to trick Maine residents into providing their account information,” Schneider said. “Consumers may receive scam emails that look as though they are from a company they have done business with in the past, requesting that they respond by confirming their financial information.”
Schneider said that legitimate companies do not request such information by email and that consumers never should reply to an email seeking account numbers, Social Security numbers or other financial information.
Schneider also reminded Maine residents that having their sensitive information in the hands of an unauthorized person does not necessarily mean that they have become a victim of identity theft. Identity theft does not occur until an unauthorized person fraudulently uses that information to secure money, goods or services in another person’s name, he said.
One means of protection is placing a security freeze or “file freeze” on an individual’s credit report, Schneider said. With a freeze in place, the credit reporting agency may not release a credit report about an individual without that individual’s authorization. The freeze is free for consumers who have been victims of identity theft.
Mainers interested in placing a security freeze on their credit file should send a written request to the three major credit reporting agencies:
– Equifax, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241. For more information, call 800-685-1111. For a security freeze, call 800-525-6285.
– Experian, P.O. Box 2104, Allen, TX 75013-0949. For more information or a security freeze, call 888-397-3742.
– Trans Union, P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022. For more information, call 800-916-8800. For a security freeze, call 800-680-7289.
Consumers who are concerned about data breaches may call the Maine Office of the Attorney’s General Consumer Protection Division at 626-8800.