In response to Equifax’s news of a massive security breach affecting 143 million people (which is nearly half the U.S. population), I’ve prepared a brief action plan to help protect your identity and personal information.
- Check to see if your information is at risk here. Equifax has also established a new call center (866-447-7559) to address questions around the cyberattack.
- Consider taking advantage of Equifax’s offer of free credit-monitoring and identity theft protection for 12 months. Keep in mind that by opting in to this service you potentially waive your right to participate in any class action lawsuits against Equifax. UDPATE: Equifax has since clarified and updated the arbitration clause language. Read details on their website here.
- Pull credit reports from the three major bureaus--Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. I recommend doing so through AnnualCreditReport.com. Federal law allows you one free credit report per year from each of these bureaus. Review reports for false accounts, inaccurate information, and suspicious activity such as unauthorized hard inquiries. (Note that Equifax’s credit report site was down as of earlier today.)
- Stay vigilant over bank and credit card activity. Spending awareness becomes even more important when we suspect that our personal information is at risk.
- Consider a credit freeze if you’re still concerned. This is the most proactive step you can take to prevent identity theft. It is a laborious option and will take great attention to detail as you will have to manually lift the freeze prior to using credit--applying for a new apartment, opening a new line of credit, possibly applying to a new job--but it is effective. Learn more here.
Here are a few identity theft resources for your reference.