Equifax Hack: Facts and Fixes
Last month, Equifax announced that it had experienced a massive data breach. The initial estimate of 143 million accounts was recently revised to 145.5 million. How do you know if you’ve been affected by the Equifax hack? What do you do to protect yourself in the future? Read on to learn more.
Equifax Hack: Facts
On September 7th, credit reporting agency Equifax announced a security breach in their system. This breach occurred between mid-May and July 2017. During the Equifax hack, criminals accessed files containing personal info of thousands of Equifax customers, including names, social security numbers, birth dates and credit card numbers. This breach left millions of other accounts vulnerable as well.
Why should you be worried about the Equifax hack? Even if you never dealt with them directly, they could still have your information on file. As one of the three credit reporting agencies (including TransUnion and Experian), Equifax receives information from creditors in regards to your credit accounts, payment history, social security numbers, etc. This is what goes into determining your credit score.
Equifax Hack: Was My Info Compromised?
Now that you know the basics about the Equifax hack, how do you find out if your information was compromised? Equifax set up a website specifically to address this situation. Visit EquifaxSecurity2017.com. Then, click on the “Am I Impacted?” link. Next, fill in the information requested. Click on the box next to “I am not a robot”. After you click “continue”, it will tell you whether or not you may have been affected by the hacking. If so, an orange “enroll” button directs you to Equifax’s credit monitoring service.
Equifax Hack: Fixes
Equifax currently offers all US consumers a free one year credit-monitoring service (TrustedID Premier). Anyone can take advantage of this free service. Just sign up before the January 31, 2018 deadline. Not interested in using a service from the same company who made your data vulnerable in the first place? That’s understandable. Paid services like LifeLock and True Identity from TransUnion rank highest among current credit monitoring services. TransUnion offers their service free of charge. Right now, new subscribers to LifeLock receive a 10% discount for a limited time only. Why credit monitoring? Even after the waters calm, your data continues to float around in the ethernet. Staying vigilant helps ward off would-be identity thieves.
Next, request your credit report from all three credit reporting services. Legally, every consumer can access one free report from each agency every 12 months. To do so, visit AnnualCreditReport.com. Once you receive them, check each report thoroughly for mistakes. Contact the company reporting the erroneous information. Describe what the error is and provide proof of your claim. Send the credit reporting agency a copy of all information as well.
Finally, place a credit freeze on your account. To do so, either visit each of the three credit reporting agencies’ websites or call them directly. Tell them you want to freeze your account. Why a freeze? With a freeze, no one can access your information until you “thaw” it. So, before you apply for a loan of any kind, you’ll need to contact the three agencies to release the freeze. Yes, it’s a little bit of a hassle. But it’s worth it if it stops someone from stealing your identity.