As you probably have heard, approximately 143 Million U.S. customers may be impacted after Equifax Inc. was struck with a cyber-attack.
What exactly is Equifax?
Equifax is one of the oldest and largest credit reporting agencies in the United States which gathers and keeps a running history of your credit picture from loans and credit cards to creditors, bankruptcies, tax liens, etc. When you apply for a loan or new credit card, this credit history (with your consent) is provided to the financial institution. The financial institution will use this report to determine if you are an ideal candidate for a loan. In addition to credit monitoring, Equifax also offers identity theft protection products.
When did the Equifax breach happen:
According to Equifax, the breach occurred from mid-May through July 2017.
Equifax said that information accessed primarily included:
- Social Security Numbers
- Birth Dates
- Driver’s License Numbers in some instances
- Credit card numbers for 209,000 U.S. Customers
- Documents with identifying information for 182,000 U.S. customers
- The breech also affected UK and Canada residents
To learn more, go to: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/
8 steps post breach to protect your credit:
- To see if you are impacted go to: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/
- Check your credit card statements and bank accounts for unusual activity / purchases that you did not authorize. If you see anything suspicious, contact your credit card provider / bank immediately. Monitor these accounts closely every month.
- Consider a Credit Freeze which would make it more difficult for someone to establish an account in your name with your personal information. However, be aware that this would also limit you from opening new accounts, applying for a mortgage, etc. until the freeze is removed. This process can take some time. Plan accordingly. Also, this does not prevent a thief from making charges on your current credit cards.
- If a Credit Freeze is too drastic, consider a Fraud Alert. To learn more go to: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs#difference
- Consider signing up for Trusted ID Premier– 1 year of free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection to all U.S. customers. According to Equifax, you will not be automatically enrolled or charged at the end of the year.
- Check your credit report regularly – for Equifax and other major reporting agencies. You can do this for free annually at annualcreditreport.com
- For more information on identity theft and if you think you are a victim, visit the Identity Theft Resource Center at: idtheftcenter.org or call 800-400-5530.
- The Federal Trade Commission advises that you file your taxes early so no one can file under your social security number in hopes of getting your refund. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-data-breach-what-do
Lauren Rebbel, Owner of www.thefemaleforce.com is also a Partner, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner and Certified Financial Divorce Analyst™ with The Prosperity Consulting Group, LLC. www.prosperityconsult.com
Securities offered through Triad Advisors Member FINRA / SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through The Prosperity Consulting Group, LLC. The Prosperity Consulting Group, LLC is not affiliated with Triad Advisors.