The Equifax data breach announced yesterday potentially affects 143 million U.S. consumers and is one of the largest breaches of personal information. The following steps can be taken by consumers to help protect against fraud and identity theft:
- Enroll in the free security services offered by Equifax - https://trustedidpremier.com/eligibility/eligibility.html
- Place a security freeze on your credit file with each of the credit bureaus
- Monitor your financial accounts for unauthorized activity and report unauthorized activity immediately
- Obtain a copy of your credit report, review it for unauthorized activity, and report unauthorized activity immediately - www.annualcreditreport.com
- Set up alerts on your debit and credit accounts to notify you of transactions, changes to your account, or other alerts offered by your financial institution
The credit reporting bureau, Equifax, reported yesterday that they have been compromised. Non-public information affecting potentially 143 million U.S. consumers was stolen, primarily consisting of names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and, in some instances, driver's license numbers. Additionally, credit card numbers for approx. 209,000 U.S. consumers and dispute documents for approx. 182,000 U.S. consumers were accessed. Further details from Equifax can be found here:
- https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/ - Equifax's public statement and video from their CEO
- https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/ - How to check with Equifax if your information was affected and how to enroll for the free services they are offering. Free enrollment in the credit monitoring and other services ends on November 21, 2017.
- https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/trustedid-premier/ - A list of the services that are being offered for free for one year by Equifax. TrustedID Premier is a division of Equifax.
For information from a source independent of Equifax, Brian Krebs' coverage can be found here - https://krebsonsecurity.com/2017/09/breach-at-equifax-may-impact-143m-americans/.
Additional information about the steps consumers can take to protect against fraud and identity theft:
- Placing a security freeze on your credit file with the four major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union, Innovis) may have associated fees depending on which state the consumer lives in. Also, some states require the freeze to expire after a specified amount of time.
- NOTE - A security freeze will also prevent the consumer from opening new lines of credit (a new credit card, new loan, etc.) unless the consumer first removes the security freeze. Fees may be associated with removing the freeze. Here are some resources:
- https://krebsonsecurity.com/2015/06/how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-embrace-the-security-freeze/ (the "Personal Experience" section at the end of the page explains what happens when a credit application is filled out with a security freeze in place)
- Here are links to the credit bureau websites:
- By law, you can get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months at www.annualcreditreport.com
- Each financial institution has different services and alerts available for debit and credit accounts. Consumers should check with their institution for details. Examples of alerts that can be useful include notification of transactions over a specific threshold (e.g. over $100), transactions originating outside the US, and changes to the consumer's account profile (e.g. password change).