If you have been reading the paper or watching the news, you are aware of the security breach via Equifax which put millions of Americans in danger of identity theft. For those who may not know, Equifax is one of three consumer credit reporting agencies that collects and computes credit related data for individuals as well as for businesses. On, September 7, 2017, Equifax announced a cyber security breach which took place between May 2017 through July 2017.
Why should we be concerned?
Well, this breach gave cyber-criminals access to 143 million Americans’ personal data to include social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and for some, driver’s license numbers.
What can you do?
- You can visit https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/ to determine if your personal information has been impacted. If it has, Equifax is offering free credit monitoring via a third-party company which you can sign up for. I wanted to know if my personal information had been exposed, so I went to the aforementioned website, put in my last name and last six digits of my SSN and indeed, I am at risk. So, I enrolled in their free credit monitoring program. If you enroll, the company will notify you if someone tries to use your SSN to open up an account.
- If you do not want to enroll in Equifax’s Free Credit Monitoring Program, you can always check your credit reports yourself. Each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Transunion) allows you to have one free credit report annually. You may also check your reports by signing up for free credit score and reports with companies like Credit Karma (which is what I use) to monitor my credit report/score as often as I would like.
- Lastly and more drastically, you could also freeze your credit. Just remember, if you freeze your credit, you would have to call the company to lift the freeze before you apply for a mortgage loan, credit card or even open up a bank account.
Hope this helps you in understanding what took place with the Equifax breach and gives you some ideas on how you protect yourself. Was your personal information exposed by the breach? If so, what are you doing to combat it?