What You Should Have Done to Protect Your Identity Since the Equifax Breach

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What You Should Have Done to Protect Your Identity Since the Equifax Breach

Between mid-May and July of 2016 hackers were busy digging into and stealing the personal financial information of 143 million people.

Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies, had been hacked.

The hackers accessed names, Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, birth dates, addresses, medical records, credit history, and in some cases even driver’s license numbers. Everything they need to steal your identity. They also stole credit card numbers for 209,000 people.

This breach and others like the one at Target in 2013, where 40 million credit card numbers were stolen, puts a greater emphasis on the need for credit monitoring.

It’s been 9 months since the Equifax breach. What have you done to protect your identity?

If you have a credit report, there’s a very good chance you were affected by the breach. Here’s how you can find out if you were actually affected along with some steps to help protect your information from being misused.

  • FIRST visit Equifax’s website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to find out if your information was exposed.
  • Click the potential impact tab on the page and enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. This process does NOT expose your credit file, it simply allows Equifax to inform you if your information was compromised.
  • You are entitled to a free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
  • There are also free credit monitoring services available from companies like CreditKarma.com, CreditSesame.com, Quizzle.com and more.
  • You may choose to use a paid service like LifeLock or IdentityForce.
  • Another option is to put an extended fraud alert with any one of the reporting agencies (you only need to do it with one not all three). An extended fraud alert is free, but you have to renew it every 90 days. Set up fraud alerts with your credit card companies and your bank.

There has been a rumor going around that clicking the link at the Equifax website or taking advantage of a free one year identity theft protection offer will cause you to waive your rights to any potential class action lawsuits. THIS IS NOT TRUE. The free identity theft protection offer is good through January 31, 2018.

On a side note, two-thirds of credit reports contain inaccurate information and you have the right to dispute any information you believe to be incorrect. The credit reporting agencies then have 30 days to determine if the disputed information is correct or not.

Here’s contact information for the three major Credit Reporting Agencies.

Equifax
PO Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
1-800-685-1111
www.equifax.com

TransUnion
PO Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
1-800-888-4213
www.transunion.com

Experian
PO Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
1-888-397-3742
www.experian.com

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