I'm interrupting regularly scheduled programming to discuss something major. You are probably aware of it, but you may not know what step to take next.
Recently, news about an Equifax data breach went viral. This isn't surprising, though, as the data breach is said to possibly impact 143 million American consumers.
Yes, 143 million.
This data breach was through Equifax, which is a large credit reporting agency. So, if you have a credit report, then you may be possibly impacted by the Equifax Data Breach.
According to Equifax:
- The breach lasted a surprisingly long time (at least, to me this seems like a long time). It lasted from May through July of 2017.
- During this data breach, hackers were able to access people's names, birth dates, social security numbers, addresses, and even driver's license numbers in some situations.
- Not only that, these hackers also stole credit card numbers.
- They also stole information from some people in the UK and Canada too, so it's not just people in the United States who were impacted!
Equifax does have a system up currently for people to see if their information was taken. Before you do that, though, please make sure that you are on a secure computer and on a secure internet connection.
You can go to https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/ to find out more information about the data breach directly from Equifax.
If you are a victim of this data breach, any data breach, and/or if you just want to keep your information safe, here are tips from the Federal Trade Commission:
- You should check your credit report regularly to see if there is anything incorrect, such as if someone stole your identity. Your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion can all be received for free through annualcreditreport.com.
- You may want to do a credit freeze. This makes it a little more difficult for someone to create a new account with your personal information. However, it is important to note that if they already have your existing account information (such as if they know your credit card number), then a credit freeze will not prevent this from continuing to happen.
- Due to the above, you will still want to regularly check your bank account, credit card account, and more to make sure that no unauthorized charges have been placed.
Note: If you sign up for a credit freeze, I have heard of users being charged different amounts. Some are charged nothing, whereas others are charged anywhere from $5 to $20 a month. Please be aware that you may be charged, and try to get it for free.
Related tip: If you are interested in checking your FREE credit score through Credit Sesame click here. It's completely free. I also recommend reading How Your Credit Score Affects Your Life.
More information on a credit freeze or fraud alert.
You may want to contact the three major credit bureaus, and either place a fraud alert or freeze on your credit accounts if you deem it necessary.
Fraud alerts ensure that your identity is verified before any credit is given.
A credit freeze is a little more intense, and it restricts access to your credit report so that no thieves can open a new account in your name.
The FTC explains the difference between a fraud alert and a credit freeze as:
“A credit freeze locks down your credit. A fraud alert allows creditors to get a copy of your credit report as long as they take steps to verify your identity. For example, if you provide a telephone number, the business must call you to verify whether you are the person making the credit request. Fraud alerts may be effective at stopping someone from opening new credit accounts in your name, but they may not prevent the misuse of your existing accounts. You still need to monitor all bank, credit card and insurance statements for fraudulent transactions.”
Read more at What To Do When You Lose Your Wallet.
Other great resources that may assist you with the Equifax Data Breach:
- Wall Street Journal's 5 Ways to Protect Your Finances After Equifax Data Breach
- Reddit's [Official Mega Thread] – Recent Equifax Security Breach
What action(s) have you taken due to the Equifax Data Breach? Share in the comments below.
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