- Up to 143 million U.S. consumers could be affected.
- Days after the breach was discovered, three executives at Equifax sold almost $2 million of their company shares.
- The Federal Trade Commission released a statement on how to protect your information.
What do you need to know about Equifax?
Equifax is one of three nationwide credit reporting companies; they supply credit information to lenders, insurers, creditors, and other businesses to evaluate applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting.
What happened with the breach?
Mid-May through July, Equifax was breached, hackers found names, birth dates, addresses, Social Security numbers, and in some cases, driver’s license numbers. Credit card numbers were also taken for around 209,000 victims. There were also 182,000 people with dispute documents including personal information.
The U.S. wasn’t the only place affected. The UK and Canada also had people with personal information taken.
How do you know if your information was taken?
Go to equifaxsecurity2017.com or call 866.447.7559 any day of the week from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. Eastern time. They have also begun notifying those who have been affected by email.
During the process, they will ask for your name and last 6 digits of your Social Security. Make sure to type in the website directly; don’t click on ads, emails, or other sources. There are numerous scams phishing, trying to get your information.
TrustedID Premier may work for you, but it’s only free for one year. However, it may be best to follow the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) guidelines with tools like IdenityTheft.gov. It’s a great resource to fight back, protect, and monitor your info.
What can you do to help for the future?
Get a credit report.
Free credit reports are available once a year by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, through AnnualCreditReport.com. Look for unusual activity. If there are charges or a credit card you don’t recognize, you may want to visit IdentiyTheft.gov to find out what to do.
A credit freeze may be another option.
When you activate a credit freeze, it puts a hold on your files, making it harder to open new lines of credit. There is a process to turn it off and on when you want to take out a new loan or get a new credit card. It only protects against new ones from being opened without your knowledge. Keep in mind credit freezes don’t stop frauds from using your current credit cards.
Monitor your current credit cards and bank accounts.
One of the best methods is to check your accounts routinely. The sooner you find strange activity, the better you can correct it. As more time passes, it’s harder to get it fixed.
Fraud alerts can also be helpful.
When placing a fraud alert on your files, it warns creditors you may be an identity theft victim. It tells them to verify it’s really you when someone seeks credit in your name.
Make sure to file your taxes early.
Doing your taxes as soon as your paperwork arrives, will stop a criminal from using it. Some will commit tax identity theft. It’s when someone takes your Social Security number to get tax refunds or a job.
Finally, whenever you get a letter from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) answer them fast.