According to the FTC.gov website, if you have a credit report, then there is a very high possibility that your personal information was exposed in the data breach at Equifax. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself going forward. Please keep in mind, I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice.
If you are concerned about your identity and assets, you should obtain legal counsel for advice.
The FTC also states this: “Here are the facts, according to Equifax. The breach lasted from mid-May through July. The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.
“They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people. And they grabbed personal information of people in the UK and Canada too.”
I hope you noticed in the first sentence of this quote: “Here are the facts, according to Equifax.”
In a day and age where a bad reputation can send a corporation into a financial down-turn, I find it difficult to believe Equifax has our best interests at heart. I am dismayed and angered that they took so long to report it to the public so we could take immediate action to avoid identity theft.
This occurred between “mid-May through July” and the American public found out when it was first reported on Sept. 7, 2017. Regardless of Equifax’s negligence to protect our data, you should be proactive in taking some steps to protect your personal information.
First, you should change all your passwords that involve your personal information. Banks, investments, employers, computer log-ins, email and any other website or device that stores your personal information.
Second, you should obtain a copy of all three of your credit reports from the three main credit reporting agencies: Experian, Trans Union and Equifax. Each consumer is entitled to one free credit report from each of the three bureaus every 12 months. Go to annualcreditreport.com, which is the only authorized website for free credit reports, or call 1-877-322-8228.
If you find potential fraud on any of your reports, you should report it with the respective credit bureaus and other authorities.
Third, you can order a “credit freeze” which reduces access to your credit reports. This must be done with each of the three credit reporting agencies. There may be a charge for this service. When you know you are going to apply for a loan, employment or even a housing rental contract, you will need to contact each credit agency and request a temporary lift of the freeze.
You can lift this freeze for a specific period of time or you can lift it for a specific person or entity so they can review your credit report. For more information about credit freeze, you should call: Equifax – 1-800-349-9960, Experian – 1-888-397-3742 and TransUnion – 1-888-909-8872.
Fourth, you should visit: “www.equifaxsecurity2017.com” to review Equifax’s “Progress Updates” regarding their actions as it relates to this breach. You can also subscribe to their free credit file monitoring services by clicking “Enroll” at the top. Carefully read through all the information on Equifax’s website so you can take the appropriate actions.
Again, if you are confused or have any inhibitions, you should consult an attorney to help you with your specific issues.
Keep track of the transactions on your credit cards, bank accounts, investment accounts, medical websites and any other website or institution that stores personal information about you. If you suspect fraud, you can go to www.Identitytheft.gov for more information.
For more than 15 years, Scott Lindsay has helped tens of thousands of people better their skills, publishing more than 400 articles about Apple and Microsoft software, the computer and the Internet. You can reach Scott for comments or questions at ScottLindsay@live.com.