Equifax just announced that between mid-May and July 2017, over 143 million American consumers’ sensitive financial information was exposed. Since Experian tracks the financial data for so many Americans, there is a high likelihood that your personal information has been exposed. Here are 10 steps to take today to protect yourself.
- Specifically, for this breach:
- Visit Equifax’s website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, and find out if you were exposed by clicking on the “Potential Impact” tab and entering your last name and last 6 digits of your social security number.
- If you find out your information was exposed, follow the on-screen steps to enroll in their free monitoring.
- There is a class action suit that’s been filed, so look for more information about that.
- Even if you’re informed that your information was not exposed, the database may not be 100% accurate so anyone, exposed or not, can sign up for the monitoring.
- Watch for signs of identity theft. This breach was months ago, so changes may already have been made to your accounts. Some of the major signs of identity theft include:
- You notice unexplained withdrawals or activity from your bank and credit card accounts
- You stop getting mail or bills (implying your address has been changed)
- Debt collectors start calling about debts you don't recognize
- Your medical records don't match your medical history
- Think about setting a credit freeze. This can be done by contacting each credit bureau and placing a freeze on all credit. Note that this also prevents you from acquiring new credit, even when you initiate the request. This service typically costs $5-$10 each to both put it on and take it off.
- Equifax: 1-800-349-9960
- Experian: 1‑888‑397‑3742
- TransUnion: 1-888-909-8872
- Put a fraud alert on your file with one of the credit agencies. Typically, these fraud alerts expire after 90 days, but even after it expires, the alert will force the credit agencies to contact you for any new credit requests. Placing the fraud alert on one credit agency will place it on all three as they are required to by the government.
- Check your credit report now and review it closely for accuracy. You can get a free one each year from www.annualcreditreport.com.
- File your income taxes early. This is key to preventing others from filing your return and creating a situation where they claim a refund. This forces you into a bad situation with the IRS, and it’s something you can control by filing as early as possible.
- Consider expiring or asking all your current credit cards for new cards with new numbers. This occurs naturally if you lose your card and you call to let your credit card company know. Equifax plans to notify people whose credit card information was exposed. If you receive a notice this is a mandatory step, but also can be done as a precaution.
- Consider adding third-party identity theft solutions. Equifax’ solution to this breach is complimentary enrollment in TrustedID Premier, but you might want to consider adding a secondary identify theft solution for added protection for any adults in your household. Solutions from LifeLock or IDShield are good places to start.
- It’s a good time to change all your banking passwords. It’s never convenient, but now is a great time to do it.
- Watch out for FAKE Equifax emails, phone calls, or other communications related to the breach. These fake communications may contain malware or may be phishing campaigns to gain more personal info or scam the user out of money. These malware and phishing attacks are now reaching the market, and you don’t want the problem to get worse for you.
- BONUS STEP: Repeat Steps 1 through 10 for your spouse or other loved ones. Take the same precautions to protect your loved ones from exposure.
Take time to do the things on this list and make sure you share it with others in your company and at home. You may not be able to control all the exposure, but the items above help protect you from this breach. Make this a priority today!
Sharing is caring. Make sure you forward these tips to your friends, family and coworkers to make sure they take the proper steps to protect themselves from this breach.
If you wish to learn more about steps to protect yourself, please do not hesitate to email me. I am more than happy to provide you with additional information.
Cloud Industry Expert