You may have already read about the latest data breach that resulted in 143 million Equifax records being compromised. As part of that data breach, names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, home addresses, and driver’s license information was taken.In seeing such a large number and knowing you have your own credit reports most likely with this company, you might be quietly (or loudly) freaking out right now. It’s easy to understand your concern when data breaches are becoming so common despite the security technology available. Even worse is the fact that Equifax waited to announce this data breach six weeks after it happened. However, here is a Equifax data breach action plan that you can put into place to address this potential for identity theft:
Start Your Equifax Data Breach Action Plan on Equifax Website
The credit reporting agency established a special website to visit to check to see if your information was among the stolen records. Go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. Once on the site, you will see a “Potential Impact” tab. Here, you can enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. The site will then let you know if they believe your record was exposed. The website has frequently asked questions that address this data breach.
Enroll in Trusted ID Program
You can either enroll then or Equifax will give you a specific date to come back and sign up for its free year of credit monitoring and other services as part of their Trusted ID program. You have until November 21, 2017 to enroll. Equifax is giving you access to all three of the major credit bureaus as part of this program. These include TransUnion and Experian in addition to Equifax.
Other services are included in the Trusted ID Program. You can also “lock” your Equifax credit report and receive Internet scanning for your Social Security number. The program also includes identity theft insurance.
Set Up a Fraud Alert
A fraud alert means that any time a company receives a request to open an account, they will have to first verify your identity. This can help shut down the risk of having any false accounts open in your name. To set up a fraud alert, contact each credit bureau.
The fraud alerts are in place for up to 90 days.
Place a Credit Freeze On Your File
This is another action that makes it more difficult for someone to open a new account in your name. An account can only be unfrozen with PIN. While this may cause delays if you are trying to apply for a loan or credit, it can help prevent identity theft. Each credit bureau allows you to do this through their automated systems.
Here are the phone numbers you need to do this:
- Equifax: 1-800-349-9960
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 1-888-909-8872
However, this action won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.
Monitor Your Existing Accounts Closely
Since these other actions won’t stop criminals from attacking your existing accounts, you will need to keep a close watch on any credit card and bank accounts. If there are charges you don’t recognize, report them immediately to your credit card company or bank.
File Your Taxes Early
A scam artist may also try to compromise your taxes to get a job or a tax refund. Be sure to file your taxes as early as possible and address any letters you receive from the IRS that may be about one of these potential scams.
You will need to stay vigilant and continue to check your accounts and credit reports. This is because your information could be sold again and again. That means months from now someone could try to get into your existing accounts or open new ones. Unfortunately, you will need to make this part of your routine for quite awhile to protect your identity, assets, and credit score.