In response to several inquiries around the recent Equifax security breach – which compromised the personal information of as many as 143 million Americans – we wanted to alert you as to steps you can take to help ensure your identity is protected. Here’s what you need to know.
Equifax Inc., one of the three major credit reporting agencies, reported that from mid-May through July 2017, unauthorized access to consumer files was gained. The information included names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, some credit card numbers and some dispute documents with personal information.
What is the potential impact?
Criminals could use the information to gain access to existing accounts, or to open new credit accounts in your name.
What should I do now?
Visit equifaxsecurity2017.com to find out if your information was exposed and enroll in TrustedID, their free credit monitoring program. Because the database may not be 100% accurate, anyone, exposed or not, can sign up for the free credit monitoring service.
It should also be noted that Equifax is offering to monitor affected customers’ credit scores, but not to help fix credit scores that may have been negatively affected by the attack.
Are there other steps I can take to protect myself?
We recommend that you change your passwords on all financial and credit accounts and to be diligent about regularly updating your passwords. You should also carefully review your monthly credit card statements to watch for any unauthorized activity.
We also recommend you consider putting a freeze on all of your credit files, which will prevent the unauthorized opening of new accounts. However, the negative of freezing credit files is that it may cause potential headaches for consumers who will be applying for credit or other services that require a credit check. Credit checks are often used for upgrading or changing cell phones, home and auto insurance, home utilities, buying a car, applying for impromptu credit at a retail store, and opening a bank account. You’ll need to remember to lift the credit freeze a couple of days prior to these activities and then remember to refreeze your files after your changes. This inconvenience notwithstanding, at this point in time, a credit freeze seems to be the strongest action consumers can take to protect their financial assets and personal information. Please note:
How do I initiate credit freezes?
There are online or over-the-phone options for each bureau. Contact information for each is below.
*Please Note: due to the dynamic nature of this situation, the content we've provided above is based on the best information currently available. We will continue to update information as it becomes available here.
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