Equifax has suffered one of the largest data breaches in history, but here’s what you can do to protect yourself.
The Equifax data breach is something that has been of great concern to anyone who has a credit report. If you haven’t heard, Equifax made it known that hackers broke into its computers and stole key personal data — including social security numbers, names, addresses and dates of birth — from an estimated 143 million Americans. While it isn’t the biggest breach in identity theft history (Yahoo! took the lead with 1 billion records in 2016) it’s certainly shaping up to be the worst.
The reason is simply because of the kind of information that was compromised.
What makes this a difficult one is that Equifax is one of the three major organizations in the United States that calculates credit scores. Virtually all American adults have information floating around with the company, and while it did direct customers to go to its special website to figure out whether they were affected, there seems to be little information on whether your data may have been exposed.
How can you protect yourself as this gets sorted out? Here are a few simple tips.
Monitor your accounts.
This is the simplest and cheapest (free!) way to keep a tab on things. Check for any changes in your personal information and report any unauthorized transactions to your respective financial institution.
Request a credit freeze.
Freezing your credit will make it difficult for anyone to open a new account in your name, as you will need the PIN that you got when you froze your credit to unfreeze your account.
Change all passwords and logins.
If you have used or currently use Equifax and other credit reporting agencies, change your passwords and login credentials.
When it’s tax time, make sure you’re not the victim of a fraudulent filing.
Identity thieves can use your social security number to file fraudulent returns. Work with a tax professional to keep yourself protected.
Be aware of scams.
Never give your information out if you receive a call that you owe back taxes or other outstanding debts. If anything seems fishy, call respective agencies to confirm.
While this is a scary and uncertain time, there are measures you can take to protect yourself. If you have fallen victim to identity theft, visit the FTC Identity Theft Recovery site to help get back what’s rightfully yours – your identity!
Still unsure about what to do next? Follow the latest news on the breach, like this piece – “Why All the Confusion With the Equifax Data Breach? 9 Steps You Need to Know to Protect Yourself” by Jessica Robinson, CEO of PurePoint International.
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