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Lock down your money after Equifax breach

Consumer Reports says there are several things you could be doing to put a wall up around your money aside from a credit freeze. (Image credit: MGN Online & Consumer Reports)

If you suspect you're a victim of the Equifax data breach, you should have already placed a security freeze on your credit files. It's the nuclear option of credit protection and should help close the door on anyone trying to set up a fraudulent account in your name. But Consumer Reports says there are several other things you could be doing to put a wall up around your money.

First, set up and activate two-factor authentication on any of your financial accounts that offer it, including mobile banking, credit cards and a home equity line of credit. It's an important, extra layer of protection. So, it's your password plus a code, that's texted to your cell phone, that only you have or it's your password plus, say, a scan of your fingerprint.

Next, secure your mutual funds. Investment firms aren't required to restore assets stolen by hackers. Two big investment firms - Fidelity and Vanguard - do have reimbursement policies in online hacking cases. But you should check the coverage details with your investment manager. If your investment company doesn't explicitly say that it reimburses stolen funds, consider moving your money elsewhere.

Finally, don't forget the simple move of placing a fraud alert with the three major credit bureaus. It's free and provides a first-step warning to potential lenders NOT to open accounts in your name without taking extra steps to verify it's actually you applying for the credit.

It's important to get a copy of your credit report, so you can monitor regularly for fraud. Consumer Reports says being more diligent about reviewing account statements as well as keeping up-to-date security on any computer or other device you use to access accounts can also add to your financial protection.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org.

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