By now you’ve probably heard that the Equifax credit bureau was breached this past July, though was only just made public. Around 143 million consumers were exposed in the breach. This very likely means someone in your household, if not you, has been affected by the breach. In fact, it’s pretty safe to assume that your personal credit bureau information is now out there.
Consumers may be confused about how to check if they are impacted by the breach and take steps that may limit the potential for identity theft. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Start monitoring your credit reports for unusual / unauthorized activities.
- If you don’t need a loan in the near future, you can lock your report. If you do, lock it at all three bureaus (Equifax, Transunion, and Experian). This will prevent loans being taken out in your name. You can do this for free by calling each bureau.
- If you’re worried, you can put a fraud alert on your records at the bureaus. This is good for 90 days, and is free. Again, will make getting a loan harder during the 90 days.
- Equifax has a web page where you can type in your information and they’ll tell you if they think your info was affected in the breach. Further, they are offering free credit monitoring as part of their response to the breach. Read the fine print and understand what you are giving up before you sign up for this service. By signing up you waive rights, such as the ability to participate in class action lawsuits (which have already been filed).
- Be extra suspicious of unsolicited emails. Spammers and scammers will create new and interesting scams around this information and will be able to have extremely targeted and personalized campaigns. Turn a suspicious eye towards your inbox and don’t fall for scams. If in doubt THROW IT OUT!
Here are some resources that YOU (our member) may find helpful and can assist in limiting future identity theft.
- The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Equifax Data Breach: What to Do webpage
- FTC’s Business Blog post, Fraud alerts vs. credit freezes: FTC FAQs
- IdentityTheft.gov provides consumer-facing guidance specific to the Equifax breach
- CFPB’s blog post Identity theft protection following the Equifax data breach
- Members can access their credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com
- Equifax’s Notice of the Breach, including ID Theft Prevention Tips and regulatory contact info
- Equifax’s Enrollment for Credit Protection
- Equifax’s FAQs about the Breach
- Krebs on Security -The Equifax Breach: What You Should Know