After the recent massive Equifax data breach, many people started to panic and lose faith in the safety of credit bureaus. As you already know, more than 143 million Americans’ personal information got potentially compromised during the breach that was discovered on July 29 this year.
It is only natural that the victims of the breach, and not only them, no longer trust someone that was supposed to protect their information. However, Equifax repeatedly issued statements of regret and announced that it would take all steps necessary to repair the damage that occurred as a result of the breach. And they did.
The first step that they took was to create a special website that should deal with the breach. On the website, they have regularly posted updates about the investigation process and services that they would give to all victims of the breach.
Their next step was to offer a year of free credit monitoring to all potential victims. Credit monitoring can come in handy to all potential victims of this event. What credit monitoring does is monitor any changes that occur on your credit report, and in a situation such as this, when hackers can apply for a new credit card or loan or even try to open a new account under your name, this can be particularly useful. But this was not enough for the enraged Equifax customers. They wanted more. And they got it.
After the increasing public pressure, on Tuesday, September 12, Equifax made the following decision: Free credit freeze will be available to everyone who wants it. In other words, they are willing to waive credit freeze fees to all customers who freeze their credit by November 21. In addition, it decided to refund any fees that its customers have paid since the breach was disclosed.
This is a great decision, for it will protect many customers who might be impacted by the breach. A credit freeze is much more potent than a fraud alert. The latter only makes it necessary for you to verify your identity before you are issued a credit or a new account is created under your name. The former, however, is the best way to protect yourself in this situation, since it will lock your credit report and deny access to your report and credit score. In other words, you will have to authorize any sharing of information to new creditors by the bureau.
It is also recommended that you strengthen your PIN, but this is a separate issue that you will have to resolve with Equifax, which is willing to issue new PINs to anyone who wants to replace their old ones. However, it is still uncertain what exactly this process will look like.
You should bear in mind that you should not remain passive about this situation under any circumstances. Quite the contrary, take all necessary steps to remedy this issue, because you can’t know for sure whether your finances could be in danger due to the hackers and fraudsters’ attempt to misuse your information.
The government, appalled by the breach, is trying to find a way to prevent such events from happening in the future by setting their sights on introducing a law that would make it free to anyone to place a freeze on their credit at any given time. Many senators have issued a call to action to their colleagues from the opposite political party to unite at this critical moment and make a decision that will benefit all Americans by making their finances much safer.
And while the big players are debating on the best and most feasible solution, we must not wait for them to decide for us. Each of us should make our own decision in this situation. At this moment, it is more than obvious what the best solution is. Elite Personal Finance sincerely recommends you to use the opportunity of placing a credit freeze on your file that is offered by Equifax at the moment. The deadline for doing so is November 21, and we don’t know whether it will be prolonged. That is why you need to be smart and act quickly.
We hope this article will be helpful to anyone who thinks their credit report has been compromised in the recent breach.
Elite Personal Finance Team