Equifax Breach Nothing to Ignore

October 1, 2017
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By now, you certainly know about it. You may have even done something about it. But have you done everything you can do to protect yourself from the Equifax breach?

Even if you’ve checked your credit reports, your credit card statements, and your bank accounts and seen nothing amiss, you’re far from out of the woods. Hackers sometimes keep-or sell-personal information that doesn’t get used for years.

This is the new normal. Actually, it has been for years, but the Equifax breach may have just put you at more risk. Unless you’re living entirely off the grid, your Social Security number, birthdate, driver’s license ID, and credit card accounts are always at some level of risk. Hackers can use that information to open new accounts, apply for government benefits, make huge purchases, etc.

First Things First

 

Prepare to develop a lifelong habit of credit monitoring. You can do some of this by your own by keeping an eye on your financial accounts and statements, but there are three services that you should look to for ongoing help with this process:

  •  AnnualCreditReport.com. This is the only website that provides credit reports from the three major reporting bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. You can request copies of yours once every 12 months at no charge.

  •  Credit Karma. Another free service, Credit Karma displays weekly updates on your credit scores and reports from TransUnion and Equifax. It will issue an alert if it spots anything amiss on your TransUnion report; the site also provides calculators and educational articles, and recommends financial products like credit cards to you from their partners (this is how they remain free).

  • LifeLock. A subscription to this site will cost you anywhere from $9.99-29.99/month for monitoring of 1-3 credit bureaus, depending on the level of service you want. Beyond notifying you of potentially suspicious activity, LifeLock offers assistance from a U.S.-based credit restoration team and limited reimbursement of stolen funds.

Credit Freeze

 

Many financial experts recommend “freezing” your credit with each of the bureaus to prevent unauthorized individuals from signing up for credit cards or taking out loans in your name. Of course, this means that you’ll have to “unfreeze” them when you yourself want to apply for new credit. Each freeze and thaw will cost you a few dollars.

Equifax  (800) 349-9960

Experian  (888) 397-3742

TransUnion  (888) 909-8872

Further Steps

 

Be sure to use strong passwords and change them periodically. Consider a 2-step authentication when it’s available. Protect yourself against unnecessary risk by being very judicious about who gets sensitive information like your Social Security number – especially online.

We’re here for you should you want to consult with us on the safety of your financial information. Contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

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