You’ve seen the news and read the articles about the recent Equifax breach, not to mention countless other breaches over the last few years. Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit bureaus announced a large security breach occurred with their data. Consumers’ personal information was compromised, including names, social security numbers, birthdates, addresses and some driver license numbers of approximately 143 million Americans. They also stole credit card numbers from about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people. The exposure happened mid-May through July of this year.
Some are calling this the worst leak of personal information ever! Naturally, you’re concerned and wondering what you can do to take control of your private information. We’re here to help!
First, we recommend you check to see if you are on the exposed list. To find out if your information was exposed:
- Visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com
- Click on the “Potential Impact” tab. Then enter your last name and last six digits of your Social Security number.
- The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by this data breach.
If you are concerned that your personal information has been compromised, The Federal Trade Commission recommends taking these additional steps, to protect your identity and personal information after a data breach.
- Check your credit reportsfrom Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
- Consider placing a credit freeze.A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making changes to your existing accounts.
- Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize. If you see anything, report it immediately to the financial institution or credit card company where you have that account.
- Consider adding a fraud alert to your files, if you decide against a credit freeze. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
- File your taxes early. As soon as you have the tax information you need, file your taxes before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.
- Continuously monitor your information. It’s best to get in the habit of checking your financial statements as soon as they are available. Make it part of your weekly or monthly routine.
- As always, remember to shred personal information – like statements and expired credit cards, to securely dispose of your confidential information.
- Use very strong passwords online. Here’s an article about methods to use for creating strong passwords. You want to make it as difficult as possible for an identity thief or online hacker to access your information.
Please contact us if you have additional questions or concerns. We would be happy to help.