If you are reading this (or even if you are not!), it is likely that you were one of the 145 million Americans whose information was exposed in the Equifax data breach earlier this fall (announced by Equifax in September of 2017), given that 145 million represents a high percentage of all adults in the U.S.. Now that the dust has settled, if you have not already done so, consider acting right away to protect your information from being misused. Identity theft can be extremely disruptive and potentially damaging. Below is general information and resources.
The following are guidelines established by The Federal Trade Commission (https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-data-breach-what-do) to help protect your personal information. These steps should be done using a secure computer:
- Visit https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/. Although initial reports indicated that following the Equifax steps negated your ability to be part of a class action law suit, that is no longer the case.
- Check your credit reports by visiting https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action. If you see any accounts you do not recognize go to https://identitytheft.gov/ to see next steps.
- Place a credit freeze on your credit reports at each agency. This makes it harder for others to fraudulently create accounts in your name. You can relatively easily unfreeze access to your credit reports when/if you want to obtain new credit. You can do this as part of the Equifax process.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit files. This warns creditors that you may have had your personal information compromised and increases verification procedures.