Equifax Breach: How To Protect Yourself Now
The Equifax breach earlier this year exposed the personal and financial information of nearly 150 million Americans. If your information has been compromised it may not be immediately apparent and can take some time to get into the wrong hands. So what can you do in the meantime?
Aside from the security carelessness that lead to the hack one of the big issues in the Equifax breach is that the company failed to notify the public until 6 weeks after it was found, giving fraudsters a significant head start.
Additionally the service initially set up by the company to help people secure their information was itself full of security vulnerabilities according to Wired.
So what you rely on if you are worried if your information may have been compromised?
Equifax has set up a website for people worried about the breach to check to see if they were impacted. Since its launch the site has been made more secure and is fully legitimate. Simply go to the site and select the 'Am I Impacted?' option on the bottom left. From there you enter your last name and last 6 digits of your social security number and you get a yes or a no.
While this may not give you much peace of mind if your information has been compromised at least you can get ahead of it.
The best and most extreme way to insure that fraudulent accounts and lines of credit cannot be opened in your name is to freeze your credit. Because of how credit works this isn't just a one-and-done process, you need to contact all three credit bureaus to freeze your credit.
Once you place the freeze you will be issued a PIN by snail mail so that you can thaw your account in the future. Luckily freeze PINs were not included in the breach.
Putting a freeze on your credit may cost a fee but is free for Equifax through January 2018.
Contact each bureau through their website or by phone:
TransUnion - 1-888-909-8872
Experian - 1-888-397-3742
Equifax - 1-800-685-1111
Another way to watch your credit is to set up a fraud alert instead of a freeze. Instead of freezing your credit it will allow it to be accessed but will include additional steps to verify your identity.
This method will still allow you to do everything you normally can just with an extra layer of protection and will notify the credit bureaus of potential fraud related to your accounts.
You can do that quickly through TransUnion online and learn the difference between a temporary fraud alert and a more permanent one.
File Taxes Early
One thing people overlook when their information has been stolen is tax fraud. Someone can steal your tax refund or even get a job with your information. The FTC suggests filing your taxes early so you beat anyone else to it.
We're here to help you rebuild and understand your credit. Give us a call to get started or learn more about what we can do for you 1-800-431-0449.