By now, you know all about the latest security breach discovered on July 29 at credit reporting agency Equifax. Approximately 143 million Americans had their personal data compromised as Hacker’s had access to their systems for over 2 months before the breach was discovered. This means private data such as driver’s licenses and social security numbers of 143 million Americans are now in the hands of the bad guys.
Your Credit Report
In protecting yourself against this attack, you need to play the long game. The first thing you need to do is get a copy of your credit report as soon as possible – today. This will help you identify any new activity easily. Annualcreditreport.com is legitimate and highly recommended to use. Also, you will want to actively monitor your credit cards, loans, and bank accounts from this point on.
More than likely, if you’ve applied for credit for anything, then your information has been compromised.
Freezing Your Credit
If you are not planning on taking out a loan or applying for credit in the near future, then one suggestion to help protect yourself is to freeze your credit. Once you freeze your credit, nothing can be opened in your name.
When you freeze your credit, a pin number is supplied. Do not lose the pin numbers from any of the three credit reporting bureaus! You will need this number to unfreeze your credit in the future.
Unfreezing your credit costs a little – about $30 to unfreeze your credit on all three credit reporting agencies.
Important Phone Numbers to Freeze your Credit:
Initiate Fraud Alert
If you are unable to freeze your credit for whatever reason, at the very least initiate a fraud alert. You can learn more about this by visiting the Federal Trade Commission website and read the article on initiating fraud alerts.
Opt Out of Pre-Screened Credit Offers
Reduce your junk mail and continue to protect your credit by opting out of these pre-screened credit card and loan offers. Call this number to initiate: 888-567-8688 or visit the website.
File Your Tax Return as Soon as You Can for 2017 Taxes
Protect yourself against the possibility of someone filing a fraudulent return on your behalf. File your 2017 taxes as soon as you are able to.
TurboTax wrote a great article in 2016 on what to do if someone has filed taxes using your social security number. Read the article and get familiar with the steps you need to take in order to dispute this.
The Equifax breach presented a huge threat to us all. The only thing left to do is protect ourselves in any way that we can. Be aware and always be on alert from this moment on.