Equifax Data Breach – What You Can Do
Equifax headlined news recently in what may have been the largest data breach in history. As one of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax maintains personal information on everyone who has a credit report. Because the breach exposed 143 million Americans’, there is a strong possibility your information was compromised.
From May to July this year, hackers collected information including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers and certain credit dispute documents.
Equifax provided an option on their website to determine if your information was compromised. However, its reliability is, as yet, questionable. Whether your information was compromised or not, it’s imperative to be proactive. Here are several meaningful steps you can take now:
1) REVIEW YOUR CREDIT REPORT
We encourage our clients to review their credit report on an annual basis so now is a good time to do this. You can obtain a free copy of your report from all three credit reporting agencies by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
We recommend you obtain, review, and file a copy for everyone in your household (children included). You may want to even consider requesting a copy for parents or grandparents.
Unauthorized Accounts or activity could indicate identity theft, which should be reported. Catching issues on your credit report early is tantamount to protecting it.
2) CONSIDER SIGNING-UP FOR A FREE YEAR OF CREDIT MONITORING
Equifax is offering a free year of credit monitoring to all U.S. consumers via their credit monitoring system, TrustedID® Premier. You must sign up by November 21, 2017. It’s important to note, signing up for this does not obligate you for additional services after the conclusion of your first year. For more information and to enroll visit: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com
TrustedID® Premier offers:
- Credit monitoring of your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports.
- Equifax Credit Report Lock which allows you the ability to lock and unlock your credit report.
- Copies of your Equifax credit report.
- Internet scanning for websites with your Social Security number.
- Identity theft insurance up to $1 million for certain out-of-pocket expenses in the event you are a victim of identity theft.
3) CONSIDER A CREDIT FREEZE OR 90-DAY-FRAUD-ALERT
A Credit Freeze makes it more challenging for someone to open a new account in your name. If you apply, you’ll receive a unique PIN (personal identification number) or password. The PIN is required to lift the freeze, a requirement that can be problematic if lost or stolen. Fees may also be assessed when you place or remove the freeze and are typically $5-10 per agency to freeze and unfreeze, dependent on your location and the agency.
A 90-Day-Fraud Alert would require creditors to obtain a copy of your credit report and take steps to verify your identity before issuing any credit in your name. This option is temporary and would require you to reset the process every ninety days if you wanted to keep a fraud alert on your credit. This is a free option.
Both of these options require you to sign up at each of the three credit bureaus (see direct links below) and do not prevent fraudulent activity on existing accounts.
To sign up for a Credit Freeze Visit:
- Equifax: https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp
- TransUnion: https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze
- Experian: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
To sign up for 90-Day Fraud Alert:
- Equifax: https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-fraud-alerts/
- TransUnion: https://fraud.transunion.com/fa/fraudAlert/landingPage.jsp
- Experian: https://www.experian.com/fraud/center.html
For more information on this topic visit: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs
4) IMPLEMENT YOUR OWN BEST PRACTICES FOR SECURITY
Due to the likelihood of your information having been stolen, maintaining diligence with your online security is prudent. Experts recommend:
- Closely monitoring your statements and activity on all accounts.
- Having strong passwords with unique values and changing them regularly.
- Consider increasing your password security by using additional security features such as 2-factor identification &/or utilizing password vault services such as lastpass.com or 1password.com.
For more information and resources on ways to stay safe online visit: https://staysafeonline.org/
To explore more on the Equifax Data Breach, you may find the following links helpful:
- Federal Trade Commission: Equifax Data Breach: What to do: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-data-breach-what-do
- Equifax Cybersecurity Incident & Important Consumer Information
Please note the links referenced in this post are receiving high traffic so processing times may be slow. Consider accessing these links or processing any requests during off hours. If you determine fraudulent activity has taken place and you become a victim of identity theft, please contact each credit bureau independently to report the activity and take the necessary steps they require. Additional resources are available at www.identitytheft.gov.
As always, if you have any questions we can be reached at: (360) 338-0645 & firstname.lastname@example.org