How to protect yourself after a breach.
As you may already know, personal information for over 143 million Americans was exposed with the recent Equifax data breach. We have listed out the next steps you should take to protect your identity.
Visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to determine if your information has been compromised.
- Click on the Potential Impact button.
- Enter your last name and the last 6 digits of your social security number.
- It will then tell you whether your information was impacted in the breach or not.
- If so, you can sign up for a free year of identity theft protection through Equifax. You can still sign up for this services even if it says that your information was not compromised.
- If you sign up, you will have to fill in all your personal information and then verify through your email with a link (it may take up to 48 hours to receive an email from Equifax because of the high volume).
- You will then be given an enrollment date and you must enroll for this free service before November 21, 2017.
Don’t forget to check all social security numbers in your family.
If you were impacted or want to be cautious, contact one of the 3 credit bureaus to set up a fraud alert (under federal law, each is obligated to notify the other two):
- Equifax (http://www.equifax.com) 800-766-0008
- Experian (http://www.experian.com/) 888-397-3742
- TransUnion (http://www.transunion.com) 800-680-7289
After placing a fraud alert with one of 3 above, you should also consider contacting a fourth, lesser-known consumer credit reporting agency called Innovis. 800-540-2505
FYI: Adding a fraud alert makes it harder for an identity thief to open accounts in your name, but experts note that alerts usually just slow down the process. The alert lasts 90 days but you can renew it and it entitles you to a free credit report from each of the three companies.
How to place a credit freeze instead of a fraud alert:
Placing a credit-freeze on your credit file will generally stop all access to your credit report. Unfortunately, you need to contact all four companies to freeze your file. Here are the links: Equifax; Experian; TransUnion and Innovis.
Important note about a credit freeze: If you need to access credit, you have to unfreeze your records, which can take a few days. The availability of a credit freeze depends on state law or a consumer reporting company’s policy. Some states charge a fee for placing or removing a credit freeze, but it’s free to place or remove a fraud alert.
If you discover that someone has used your information to open a credit card, take out a loan, make purchases, etc.:
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and print your Identity Theft Affidavit.
- Use the affidavit to then file a police report, create your Identity Theft Report and submit it to a Credit Bureau for further protection.
Please be advised that Equifax will not contact you regarding this data breach.