More than 140 million customers were affected by the Equifax leak on July 29, 2017. Hackers acquired information including social security numbers, birthdates, addresses and credit card information through a vulnerable website application. Even though the company acted immediately to contain the intrusion, a breach of this level will hold significant implications for many years to come.
What can you do to protect yourself?
- Visit the Equifax website to see if you have been affected by the hack.
- Set up fraud alerts with the three major credit reporting agencies, including Equifax, but also Experian and TransUnion. This will alert you if someone tries to open an account in your name.
- Consider signing up for a year of free protection through the Equifax website. Deadline to receive this benefit is November 21, 2017, but be sure to read the fine print and ensure you are not opting out of your ability to join future class action suits related to this incident.
- Consider freezing your credit files at the three major credit bureaus mentioned above, though this is generally not possible after signing up for credit monitoring services. Advice for how to file a freeze is available here on a state-by-state basis.
- Check your personal information, finances and accounts frequently for fraudulent activity. Consider checking your credit report every four months via the three major reporting agencies mentioned above. You are entitled to one free from each annually, so spread them out over of the course of the next twelve months.
- If you believe you may have been the victim of identity theft, here is a site where you can learn more about how to protect yourself: www.idtheftcenter.org. You can also call the center’s toll-free number (888-400-5530) for advice on how to resolve identify-theft issues. All of the center’s services are free.
- Be wary of phishing e-mails and phone calls that claim to be from Equifax, or those stating that there is a problem with your credit card, credit record or other personal financial information.
Have further questions?
- Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website for information to further protect yourself and to learn more about fraud alerts and freezes.
- Call Equifax’s dedicated line (866-447-7559, from 7am – 1am) if you have additional questions.
- Learn more about the Equifax breach by visiting their FAQ page.