Roughly 143 million individuals had their personal information hacked by an unprecedented data breach at Equifax from May to July of this year. According to Equifax, “the information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers, were accessed.”
Obviously, this is a serious matter. Equifax set up a page where you can check if you were potentially impacted.
While they can’t say for sure if your information was compromised, they seem to have a pretty good idea. They are also offering a free year of credit protection through Equifax’s TrustedID Premier service to everyone, whether they think you were impacted or not. No credit card or auto-enroll is required.
If you haven’t been affected, that’s great, but there are some additional steps we recommend taking to ensure you’re ready for an identity theft attack.
1. Sign Up for a Monitoring Service
There are a lot of services out there that will keep an eye on your credit and alert you in case of fraud. If you’re going this route, we recommend choosing a company that also offers recovery services, such as IdentityForce or LifeLock, meaning they won’t just tell you when you fall victim to fraud – they’ll help you clean up afterward.
2. Request a Fraud Alert
You can place a fraud alert on your credit file if you are at risk of being a victim. Placing a fraud alert tells anyone who looks at it that you may have been subjected to fraud. It’s a great way to safeguard yourself, but it’s also temporary – fraud alerts only stay on your report for 90 days.
3. Implement a Credit Freeze
A credit freeze makes it impossible for anyone to open a credit card or other account using your information. The downside is that it makes credit-related activities difficult, but you can have it unfrozen within three business days whenever you need it. This one might cost you a little money depending on where you live (for instance, in California, it costs $10 per credit company). You must request a freeze from all three reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
If you have any questions about how you can protect yourself, feel free to call us for more tips and advice. At FPC, we take your security seriously, and we’re here to help.