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Equifax Data Breach 101

 
If you have a credit report, there's a good chance that your personal information was exposed. Here's what to do.

Contributor: Chris White
IT Consulting

What happened?

    On September 7th, 2017, one of the three credit reporting firms, Equifax, notified consumers of a data breach affecting up to 143 million individuals. The breach itself is believed to have been leveraged by the attacker from May 13, 2017 through July 30, 2017. The at-risk data includes full names, social security numbers, drivers license numbers, birth dates, home addresses and address history, credit card numbers, banking account numbers, and other information used to open, monitor, or check an individual’s credit history. UK and Canadian citizens may also be affected. Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion were NOT affected by this breach.

What should I do right now?

    To prevent unauthorized use of your credit, now and in-the-future, you should place a “freeze” on your credit with EACH of the major bureaus.  The freeze process establishes a PIN used to unfreeze your credit in the future.  While frozen, no new account or new account related activity may take place.  Existing accounts may continue to make inquiries in situations such as requesting a credit limit increase.

    You should also place a freeze with ChexSystems which is used by many institutions during the process of opening and closing checking or savings accounts.

      Should I sign-up for a credit monitoring program? A credit monitoring program helps identify activity on your account AFTER your data has been compromised.  For this reason, it is important to make sure your communication preferences are current and you are notified on all inquiries and credit score adjustments.  Popular programs include:

      Can I tell if my data has been exposed? Although there are a number of sites claiming to tell you if your data is exposed or available for sale on the “dark web”, the websites offering those services are often less-than-reputable.  We do not recommend any of them, rather you should assume your data IS available.

What should you do if your identity has already been compromised?

 

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