Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus, experienced a data breach that impacted more than 143 million U.S. consumers. Unauthorized access to highly sensitive credit report information occurred; names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers were exposed. In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people were obtained.
What is a credit report and how do I know if I have one?
Your credit payment history is recorded in a file or report. These files or reports are maintained and sold by credit bureaus. You likely have a credit record on file at a credit bureau if you have ever applied for a credit or charge account, a personal loan, mortgage, insurance, or a job. Your credit report contains information about your debts and credit payment history. It also indicates whether you have been sued, arrested, or have filed for bankruptcy.
Was my information stolen?
If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance that it was stolen. Go to a special website set up by Equifax to find out. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Potential Impact,” enter some personal information and the site will tell you if you’ve been affected. Be sure you’re on a secure network (not public wi-fi) when you submit sensitive data over the internet.
How can I protect myself?
Enroll in Equifax's services.
Equifax is offering one year of free credit monitoring and other services, whether or not your information was exposed. You can sign up at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/.
Monitor your financial accounts.
Regularly monitor your accounts for fraudulent transactions. Use online and mobile banking to keep a close eye on your accounts. Set up automated alerts to receive notification of unusual transactions.
Watch out for scams related to the breach.
Do not trust e-mails that appear to come from Equifax regarding the breach. Attackers are likely to take advantage of the situation and craft sophisticated phishing e-mails.
Place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report.
If you are a victim of fraud, you can take instant action by placing a fraud alert on your credit file. To prevent a credit reporting company from releasing your credit report without your consent, you can place a security freeze.
To learn more about how to protect yourself after a breach, visit https://www.identitytheft.gov/Info-Lost-or-Stolen
Should I place a fraud alert or security freeze?
Before deciding whether to place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report, consider your personal situation. If you plan on applying for credit soon or think you might need quick credit in an emergency, it might be better to place a fraud alert. A fraud alert puts a red flag on your credit report which requires businesses to take additional steps to verify your identity before opening a new account, issuing an additional credit card, or increasing the credit limit on an existing account. The initial fraud alert will stay on your credit report for 90 days and can be renewed at the end of this period. An Extended Fraud Alert offers the same protection over a longer period (up to seven years) but requires additional documentation. Fraud alert services are free at all credit reporting agencies.
How do I place a fraud alert or security freeze?
FRAUD ALERT: Notify any one of the three credit reporting companies. As soon as that company processes your alert, it will notify the other two.
Where can I get more information about the Equifax breach?
Visit https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/ or call 866-477-7559 to learn more directly from Equifax.