What You Need To Know About The Equifax Data Breach
Cyber criminals have stolen 143 million credit records in the recent hacking scandal at Equifax, one of the big-three credit bureaus. We advise that you watch out for the following items:
- Phishing emails that claim to be from Equifax where you can check if your data was compromised
- Phishing emails that claim there is a problem with a credit card, your credit record, or other personal financial information
- Calls from scammers that claim they are from your bank or credit union
- Fraudulent charges on any credit card because your identity was stolen
Here’s what you can do to determine if you were affected by the data breach:
- Equifax has established a website, https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, where you enter your last name and last 6 digits of your social security number to determine if you were affected.
- If the website determines that you were impacted by the data breach, Equifax has set up a free one-year monitoring service called “TrustID Premier” which you can sign up for. TrustID Premier provides: three – bureau credit file monitoring and automated alerts of key changes to your Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit files, a copy of your Equifax credit report, allows you to prevent access to your Equifax credit report by 3rd parties with certain exceptions, searches suspicious web sites for your Social Security number, and provides up to $1 million in ID theft insurance.
You may also want to consider taking the following actions:
- Check your credit reports for suspicious activity for free from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion by visiting https://www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Periodically check your existing credit card and bank accounts for charges you don’t recognize.
- Learn about a “Credit Freeze” and/or “Fraud Alert” options to see if it’s something you want. A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report which in turn makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. Fraud alert allows creditors to get a copy of your credit report as long as they take steps to verify your identity. Here is a website that explains the two in more detail https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs.
If you believe you may have been the victim of identity theft, here is a site where you can learn more about how to protect yourself: www.idtheftcenter.org. You can also call the center’s toll-free number (888-400-5530) for advice on how to resolve identify-theft issues. All of the center’s services are free.