As you may have heard on the news, the credit reporting agency Equifax experienced a data breach affecting 143 Million Americans. What makes this data breach even worse than others that have been reported is the data involved.
Here are the facts, according to Equifax's frequently asked questions.
- Unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017.
- The incident potentially impacted 143 Million U.S. consumers.
- The information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.
- They also accessed credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers.
To confirm your data was involved you can visit the website Equifax setup at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/ . You will be asked to enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Your Social Security number is sensitive information, so make sure you’re on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection any time you enter it. The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by this breach. Alternatively they have a call center setup at 1-866-447-7559.
Even if your data was not exposed you will qualify for a year of free credit monitoring. You will have until November 21, 2017 to enroll.
An additional step to consider is a credit freeze (see a full FAQ on credit freezes at the FTC website). Equifax announced on 9/12 they would be waiving the fee for credit freezes for the next 30 (This fee is generally $5-$10 depending on your state). This lets you restrict access to your credit report, which then makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name since most creditors need to see your credit report before approving a new account.
If you decide against a credit freeze you might want to consider a fraud alert (see information about placing a fraud alert here).
For more information on protecting yourself after a data breach visit https://www.identitytheft.gov/Info-Lost-or-Stolen
Don't hesitate to contact us should you have any questions or concerns.