Equifax Data Breach: What Should You Do?
Last week, one of the “big four” credit reporting agencies, Equifax, announced it experienced a security breach resulting in criminals accessing personal information of approximately 143 million Americans between May and July of this year. The compromised information included names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth. In some instances, driver’s license numbers, credit card and credit dispute information were also compromised. This information is nearly everything that is needed to open an account in your name.
It’s likely that you or someone in your family may be impacted. So, what steps should you take?
- Visit the Equifax breach website at equifaxsecurity2017.com to determine whether you have been impacted. Keep in mind that the full impacts may not be known right now, so revisiting the site periodically may be helpful.
- If you are impacted, consider placing a freeze on your credit with all of the following credit reporting agencies. Freezing your credit is the only way to prevent those with your personal information from opening accounts in your name.
- Consider obtaining credit monitoring services. Equifax is offering free credit monitoring to all Americans, whether impacted by the breach or not. Several companies offer similar services for a fee. Important note: Credit monitoring does notprevent ID theft; it simply alerts you when events occur that may impact your credit.
- Be on high alert for callers impersonating an institution you do business with or phishing attempts by fraudsters impersonating Equifax via email. Never give out your personal information or provide passwords over the phone. Ask for their information such as name, case or incident number, and a phone number you can call them back. Make a phone call to the business or financial institution to verify the information you were given.