What to do after the Equifax Data Breach
If you haven't yet heard, Equifax - one of the 3 major credit reporting agencies - was hacked. Hackers took people's names, SSN, birthdates, addresses, and some credit card numbers were stolen as well.
Verify if You Were Affected
Visit EquifaxSecurity2017.com and click on the "Potential Impact" tab. You'll need to enter your last name and the last 6 digits of your Social Security number. While I realize it sounds silly to enter info on a website that was just hacked, the Federal Trade Commission encourages folks to find out this way if they were affected.
If you were affected by the data breach, here are options on what to do next:
Consider Enrolling in TrustedID Premier
Equifax is offering identity theft protection and credit monitoring services, TrustedID Premier, to people for free in light of the data breach. So whether you were affected or not, you can enroll to protect your credit and identity for 1 year. The fee for this service will be waived through November 21, 2017.
Consider Placing a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report
You'll need to contact 1 of the 3 major credit bureaus and place a fraud alert. This will require creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or increasing credit limits. The alert will be on your credit file for 90 days.
Whichever bureau you choose to call is required to contact the other 2 bureaus; so it's only necessary to call one of them.
Monitor Your Accounts
Keep a close eye on all of your accounts from credit cards to bank accounts. Set up any alert features that might be available for individual accounts. This will help you keep watch.
Review Your Credit Report
You are entitled to one free credit report from each bureau once per year from Annual Credit Report.com. Plus, if you place a fraud alert, you are entitled to one from each in that instance as well. Look over your report to determine if anything doesn't quite look right, i.e. a new account was opened that you didn't initiate.
Consider a Credit Freeze
A credit freeze prohibits the credit reporting bureaus from releasing any information from your credit report without your written authorization. There may be a nominal fee based on your state from about $3-10, but some states are free. If you are planning to take out any new credit/loans, a freeze will extend that process so plan accordingly. If you choose to enroll in TrustedID Premier, the temporary free service from Equifax, a credit freeze may be unnecessary, but it is an option. Here is info for each bureau: Experian, Equifax, Transunion.
If you need help reading your credit report, LSS offers a free Credit Report Review. Call us at 888.577.2227 to schedule your free session. Or, if you are looking to pay off your credit cards and want to do it faster, call us or GET STARTED ONLINE to find out what your fastest debt repayment option is.
Author Elaina Johannessen is a Program Director with LSS Financial Counseling.