If you have been captivated with the hurricanes pounding the South and Southeast you may have missed the most impactful story to you regarding one of the big three credit bureaus, Equifax.
Equifax had an unprecedented data breach that they have stated affected 143 Million Americans. The estimated population is 326 Million Americans — that’s over 43% of us!
Between May and July 2017 computer thieves accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses and driver license numbers. Equifax also stated that 209,000 credit card numbers were stolen.
So what do I do?
- Visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/ and check whether Equifax believes that you were part of the breach. The site will as you for your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number to run the check.
- Decide for yourself whether you want to accept Equifax offer for a year of free credit monitoring. There was language in their terms of acceptance notice that indicates that accepting any product from Equifax could make you only eligible for arbitration and waive your right to participate in a class action law suit. This language has been removed and Equifax has stated that they will not deny anyone their full rights in conjunction with this data breach but it’s a bit hard to trust them right now. We are not attorneys so we cannot advise what your rights are, just be aware and read up before making your decision.
- If you do not elect Equifax free year of credit monitoring, consider obtaining credit monitoring from a third party. A quick Google can provide you a list of companies. You should also check with your credit card companies because some offer a subscription for free.
- Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion for activity that you do not recognize— it’s FREE once every 12 months — at www.annualcreditreport.com.
- If you do not anticipate needing to do something, such as apply for a loan or credit card, anytime soon, consider placing a credit freeze on your files with all three credit bureaus. You can do this online with each bureau. Depending on the state you live in there may be a small fee for each and there may also be a small fee to lift the credit freeze. If you may need to access your credit in the near term, consider whether you want to go through the steps to temporarily unfreeze your accounts at each bureau when you apply for credit.
- If you don’t do the credit freeze, consider using a fraud alert on your credit bureau files. This lets companies that need to check your credit that you might be a victim of identity theft and that they should pay close attention to verifying that anyone applying for credit in your name is really you.
- Check your existing bank and credit card accounts regularly for charges or transactions you do not recognize.
- File your taxes as early as possible — Tax scammers are people who attempt to file tax returns as you in order to collect your refund check before you can or people who try to use your Social Security number to get a job. If you get any IRS letters act on them promptly for your personal security.
If you have more questions about what this breach means to you shoot us an email or call us.