Equifax Breach, What to do?

17 Sep    Security

One of the nation’s four credit reporting agencies, Equifax, recently suffered a major security breach with their servers that store consumer data. There’s a high chance that you are one of the 143 million Americans who had their sensitive information compromised.

Here are the specifics of the data breach according to Equifax: the actual breach lasted from mid-May 2017 through July 2017. The hackers were able to access the following information:

  • People’s Names
  • Social Security Numbers
  • Birth Dates
  • Addresses
  • Driver’s Licenses (in some instances)
  • Credit Card Numbers for 209,000 people
  • Dispute Documents with Personal Identifying Information for approximately 182,000 people

Here are the step by step actions you need to be proactive in taking to protect yourself and/or minimize the damage from actually being a victim of this breach. Do not wait for Equifax to individually contact you and confirm whether you are one of the 143 million victims. Be proactive.

  1. Order your FREE credit reports from each of the four credit reporting agencies and your consumer files from CHexSystems (credit unions) and Emergeny Warning Services (banks) (Equifax, Experian, InnovisTransUnion, and ChexSystems and Early Warning Services).
  2. After you order ALL four credit reports, go and order a freeze to be placed on all of those same agencies (Equifax Freeze, Experian Freeze, Innovis Freeze, TransUnion Freeze, and ChexSystems Freeze). Depending on the state that you currently reside in, there may be a small fee. But it is definitely worth it.
  3. Once you get your credit freezes placed on your credit reports, be sure to print a copy of each credit freeze confirmation page. As you will be either assigned or have created a PIN as the only way to confirm a permanent or temporary release of your freeze at a future date.
  4. Now it’s time to get ID Protection from one of the two highly rated and reputable companies: LifeLock or Zander Insurance.

For step 1, while reviewing  your credit reports, if you notice accounts and/or activity that you can verify is not yours, visit IdentityTheft.gov to see what you can do.  You can also file a report with the credit report’s agency that you find the activity and/or accounts that are not yours on.  When initiating a report, keep a detailed record of all communication in the process as documentation, including the people who you are working with on any case that you open.

For step 2, a credit freeze on your credit report makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name.  If you were in need to release the credit freeze either permanently and/or temporarily, you will need to utilize the unique PIN that either was automatically established by the agency or by you when you were initiating the freeze.

Video Courtesy: Ramsey Solutions – Why ID Theft Insurance is So Important

Be sure after every time you finish browsing the Internet, to clear your browser’s complete history, cookies and do not store any user names and passwords in your browser.  This is also key on your mobile devices (i.e. smartphones, tablets, and laptops).

For added protection with the IRS, you can contact them to see if they will assign you a IP PIN, which is issued to you annually around late December or January to add extra security when filing your taxes.  Visit their web page on Identity Protection for more information.

One last piece of security you can have is a cross shredding paper shredder. Be sure to shred any old and expired credit cards, debit cards, membership cards and paperwork that has your personal information and postal address.

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