It might be time to protect your credit again.
According to analysts at cybersecurity firm Q6, an estimated 1 million US and global credit cards have been released by a Russian criminal organization on the so-called dark web. The group called “All World Cards” offers stolen credit card information to other criminals.
While there is little chance that disclosure of the stolen information will affect a credit card you own, you should know that there are ways you can keep your balance safe from fraudsters at all times. (Otherwise, if you discover a fraudulent charge to your credit card, call the issuer to correct the situation.)
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The first option is to freeze your credit report which generally blocks outside access to your file. This means that a scammer will not be able to use your personal information to obtain a loan or to take out a loan because the prospective lender will not be able to review your report to approve the application.
However, if you need to apply for a new loan, you will need to temporarily lift the block. Otherwise, according to the Federal Trade Commission, it will take time to remove.
Also, you need to notify the credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion being the largest – to freeze your report on each of them.
You can also use a short term fraud warning that lasts for a year. These alerts are different from freezes: with a fraud alert, a lender trying to approve an application must first contact you to make sure the request was not from a fraudster.
All you need to do is contact a credit reporting agency to initiate a fraud alert, which in turn is required by law to pass your message on to others. It’s free too.
(CNBC Senior Washington Correspondent Eamon Javers contributed to this report.)