143 million American consumers were affected by the recent Equifax data breach that was reported last Thursday.1 If you have a credit report, chances are you may have been affected.

What Happened

According to the company’s investigation, the breach lasted from mid-May through July. Consumer information that was accessed includes people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and in some cases driver’s licenses. Credit card numbers from about 209,000, as well as dispute documents with personal information from about 182,000 people, were comprised. Equifax will send direct mail notices to consumers whose credit card numbers or dispute documents with personal identifying information were impacted.

How to Find Out If You Were Affected

  1. Visit equifaxsecurity2017.com
  2. Click on “Potential Impact,” and enter your last name and last 6 digits of your Social Security number
  3. The site will tell you if you have been affected by this breach

Steps to Take to Protect Your Identity from the Breach

Equifax is offering free identity theft protection and credit file monitoring called TrustedID, even if you are not impacted by the breach. However, terms of service require users to waive their right to sue or join a class action lawsuit to receive the monitoring.

The offer is complimentary for a year and includes:

  • 3-Bureau credit monitoring
  • Identity theft insurance
  • Internet scanning for your Social Security number

To sign up for this offer, click on the tab “Enroll” at equifaxsecurity2017.com.

Additional Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Identity

  1. Check your credit reports from the three main credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft
  2. Monitor your existing credit cards and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize
  3. Consider putting a credit freeze on your files

A credit freeze locks down your credit. To place a credit freeze on your files, you will need to reach out to each credit reporting company independently. Here are the contact numbers for each credit company, as well as links to their dedicated web page regarding freezing your credit.

A freeze remains in place until you ask the credit reporting company to temporarily lift or remove it altogether. It can take up to three business days to lift a freeze. The cost to lift a freeze varies by state. If you opt for a temporary lift because you are applying for credit or a job, you can find out which credit reporting company the business will contact for your file and save money by lifting the freeze only on that particular company.

If you are someone you know has fallen victim to identity theft, click here to download a checklist of steps to take

Keep Learning

Last year, we welcomed Identity Theft Expert, Matt Davis, for a webinar on how to protect yourself from identity theft. Identity theft is one of America’s fastest-growing crimes, creating a victim every two seconds.2 Watch the video to learn:

  • How Identity Theft Happens
  • Where Criminals Can Get Information About You
  • What You Can Do to Protect Yourself
  • Steps to Take If You Become a Victim

 

Sources:

Equifax Data Breach: What to Do, 2017, Federal Trade Commission
Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2014 Identity Fraud Study