EQUIFAX DATA BREACH
If you have a credit history, you were probably affected by the breach.
After the Equifax data breach, it’s time for you to be very proactive. If you have a credit history, you were probably affected by the breach.
This means someone out there very likely has access to all your identifying data – including your address, date of birth, social security number and access to all of your accounts and credit history.
According to Equifax, the data breach lasted from mid-May through July, 2017. For reasons unknown, Equifax decided to not immediately notify the public about the breach right away. Information on approximately 143 million Americans was accessed. This included, but was not limited to, all of the above personal information but also your driver’s license information and most credit card numbers for your accounts.
Given 143 million of us got “hit,” the odds are very good you are one of them. Even if you are fortunate not to be included in the breach, you should still consider taking some of our recommended actions below.
We strongly recommend you read all the steps below first, including our closing statement, before clicking on the recommended and listed sites.
Check if you were affected
The first step might be to visit equifaxsecurity2017.com.
You can find out if your information was exposed by clicking on the ‘Potential Impact’ button and following the instructions.
Choose to join Trusted ID – or not
After you find out if you were affected (and you probably were), you can choose to enroll in the Equifax Trusted ID program – or not.
Do not enroll in paid credit protection services
I’d advise that you do not enroll in services offered by companies that state they can protect your credit identity and notify you of any inquires not your own. The most popular is LifeLock. Why spend your hard earned money with them when you can get the same service from all three credit bureaus for free?
Get your free annual credit reports
Check your credit reports with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
The only official site where you can do this 100% for free is annualcreditreport.com. All other credit reporting sites are actually for-profit sites have strings attached and actively confuse people into buying and enrolling in paid credit check subscription services. Don’t use these sites.
Review your reports carefully. If there are accounts or inquiries you don’t recognize, it could indicate identify theft.
Consider freezing your credit
Consider placing a “credit freeze” on your accounts. Please do so with the understanding this may impact obtaining credit cards or loans. You will still prevail but with a little more effort and determination needed on your part. This will make it more difficult for someone to open new accounts in your name and identity,
Unfortunately, it won’t stop anyone from accessing your current accounts.
Here are the phone numbers to freeze your credit:
Equifax: (800) 349-9960
Experian: (888) 397-3742 (*residents of California are required to pay a fee to freeze credit.)
Transunion: (888) 909-8872 (*residents of California are required to pay a $10 fee to freeze credit.)
Place a fraud alert on your accounts
By placing a “fraud alert” on your account, anyone that wants to open a new account in your name will be required to verify your identity before doing so.
To do this, you simply need to contact just one of the three bureaus.
Here are the phone numbers to set a fraud alert:
Equifax: (888) 766-0008
Experian: (888) 397-3742
Transunion: (800) 680-7289
Note that these fraud alerts only last 90 days. You’ll have to call again to renew it after that period, so set a reminder in your phone or schedule.
This process will probably test your patience and resolve given this terrible situation created by the management hierarchy of Equifax.
Trust me, this process will be much easier than dealing with someone who has accessed your current credit cards or bank accounts or who have opened up new accounts in your name.
You can prevail.
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