On September 7, 2017, Equifax, one of the largest consumer credit reporting agencies in the United States, reported that hackers may have accessed the personal data of 143 million American consumers. This personal data included social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers. The breach also compromised credit card numbers for 209,000 consumers, and dispute documents with personal identifying information for 182,000 consumers. This stolen information can be used to commit identity theft which can cost significant time and money to correct.
Below is a list of steps that can be taken immediately to protect your information from being misused
FIRST: Find out if your information was exposed as part of the data breach by going to equifaxsecurity2017.com. Click on the “Potential Impact” tab and enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Make sure you’re on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection any time you enter it.
SECOND: Check Your Credit Report and Accounts For Suspicious Transactions. You can pull your credit reports for annualcreditreport.com to check if any new accounts have been opened in your name. Visit IdentityTheft.gov if you find any suspicious activity. Closely monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts for charges you don’t recognize.
THIRD: Obtain credit monitoring. Equifax has offered a year of free credit report monitoring to those whose data was exposed by the breach. Alternatively, paid third party service providers like IDShield or LifeLock will provide will provide credit report monitoring and bundle in assistance to help customers with credit problems.
FOURTH: Consider placing a credit freeze or fraud alert on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. However, it will also prevent you from obtaining new credit without first contacting the credit reporting company to temporarily lift the freeze. Alternatively, you can place a fraud alert on your files which will warn creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
FIFTH: Keep an eye out for phishing attacks. Criminals may pose as Equifax to trick you into providing your personal information.
SIXTH: If you have not already done so, file your taxes as soon as possible. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your social security number to obtain a tax refund. If you believe someone has filed a false tax return, file a Form 14039 to notify the IRS immediately.
Please feel free to contact the Corporate Department at Parker McCay with any questions you have regarding the Equifax security breach.