People who have been patients or their guarantors in the University of Utah health care system can take some immediate steps to protect themselves from possible identity theft or fraud.

First, contact one of the three major credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion or Equifax — and have a free 90-day fraud alert placed on credit records.

The U. plan to help includes:

• Mailing notices to all 2.2 million affected.

• Providing free credit monitoring and restoration service to those whose records included Social Security numbers.

• Establishing a toll-free information line at 1-866-581-3599 to answer questions.

• Creating a Web site, healthcare.utah.edu/billingrecordstheft, to provide information and resources.