The first step to take after the Equifax breach is to sign up for a 24/7 credit monitoring so you can find out right away if someone has opened an account in your name. This should be a free service. Unfortunately, moments like this are when ‘scammy’ monitoring services are advertised, so don’t fall for them.
Another step you can take is to enable two-factor authentication on your mobile phone, this way you can use this as another layer of protection when logging into your accounts.
While it may not be necessary now since the breach seemingly occurred months ago, placing a freeze on your credit report is also an option. This way, your credit report cannot be accessed without your express permission, making it nearly impossible for someone to open an account in your name.
It’s paramount that you never respond to unsolicited requests for personal information.
For more advice you can visit our identity theft guide here: https://wallethub.com/edu/iden
tity-theft/17120/, as well as step-by-step actions you should take if your identity is stolen: https://wallethub.com/edu/step s-to-take-after-identity-theft /17040/.
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Anyone who’s Social Security number has been compromised should consider freezing their credit reports at all three bureaus. That typically prevents a criminal from opening new credit accounts in their names. But it’s not always the best solution because credit freezes involve costs and hassle. If you apply for credit, you’ll have to get the freeze temporarily lifted. Credit freezes typically cost $3 to $10 per bureau to place and remove. The fees can get pretty onerous if you regularly open new credit, bank or brokerage accounts, or need to apply for a job, an apartment, cell phone service, utilities or insurance, since all those situations can involve a credit check.
Also, a credit freeze won’t prevent other types of crimes, such as using your information to get medical care.
If you decide against a freeze, you should place a fraud alert on your credit reports at all three bureaus, monitor your credit score and make sure to get your free annual credit reports from www.annualcreditreport.co
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The bad news is Equifax is a failed experiment. This is the third time they’ve been hacked and this one is one of the worst data breaches in history. Now they want you to sign up for their free monitoring. No, thanks. They collect your data without your permission, use it for their profit, and then don’t protect it. That’s simply awful. Here’s the good news: You can get good identity theft protection. Remember you don’t want to get just monitoring, you want someone who has a caseworker that takes over all the work and handles cleaning up the mess if someone uses this information to steal your identity to open up accounts.
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Typically, security breaches end up hitting a small percentage of the population. But when Equifax, a massive company responsible for keeping track of our most sensitive data, gets hacked, its effects are felt across the country. In total, 143 million — nearly half the U.S. — may have had their data stolen in the Equifax hack. Here’s what you need to do to protect yourself.
1. Monitor Your Credit
Sure, Equifax started offering its Trusted ID credit monitoring service for free after the hack, but the signup process has been tedious and glitchy — I am over a week in and still have yet to get it to work. So, we suggest signing up for one of the many other free services, like Credit Sesame or Credit Karma, in the interim. These may not have all the features Trusted ID has, but they will help you keep an eye on things while Equifax works out its kinks.
2. Lock it Down
If you’re not in the process of getting credit, like waiting to close on a house or car shopping, put a lock or freeze on your credit. All three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, offer this, but they all require a paid subscription, except Equifax. If you lock your credit profile, no new credit will be issued in your name without you contacting the credit bureau yourself to have it unlocked. This is the only surefire way to keep hackers out.
3. Remember, There is No End Date
These hackers have all your personal information and can use it at any time — even a decade down the road. So don’t become complacent after a year or two and let your guard down. Remain on top of your credit profile and plan to keep things on lock for the foreseeable future.
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There are 5 steps I recommend that those affected by the Equifax breach:
Request a Free Copy of Your Annual Credit Report: If you find inaccurate information, contact the companies listed on the credit report(s) directly. You can also contact the Identity Theft Resource Center, a non-profit, at (888) 400-5530 to assist you.
Place an Extended Fraud Alert or Security Freeze on Your Credit: Creditors will still have access to your credit file, even though you’ve placed a 7-year extended fraud alert, but must first contact you to verify your identity before extending credit. A credit freeze is a tool. It generally prevents creditors from accessing your credit file. To request one, you must call each credit bureau directly. Laws vary. It’s also important for consumers to know that the personally identifiable information that was part of the Equifax data breach has elevated consumer risk well outside of credit fraud (credit fraud is only 28% of the identity theft risk). Consider also signing up for an identity theft protection service to help protect you and your family against the other 72% of ID fraud.
Contact the Social Security Administration: Request a copy of your wage-earning report to verify that your social security number is not being used fraudulently, which could result in your owing taxes for wages earned by someone who’s stolen your information.
Contact Your Health Insurance Carrier: Request a copy of your health insurance statement in order to identify any fraudulent medical claims.
If You Confirm that You’re A Victim of Identity Theft, Create An Identity Theft Report With The Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Expect law enforcement to request a copy of this report when you contact them.
Mr. Steven Bearak is the CEO of IdentityForce, a company commercialized from nearly four decades of in-depth experience around personal identity and security services and products. IdentityForce is a leading provider of proactive identity, privacy, and credit protection for individuals, businesses, and government agencies. In May 2017, IdentityForce introduced a mobile app to help members stay protected anywhere, anytime. For more information, visit www.identityforce.com.
There are several initial steps that you can take following the Equifax data breach.
First, visit Equifaxsecurity2017.com to check whether you data has been compromised. According to Equifax, from a secure computer, you can enter your last name and last six digits of your social security number to verify whether your data has been affected.
Second, visit Annualcreditreport.com to obtain a free copy of your credit reports from each of the three main credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You should review your credit report for any errors or suspicious activity, and report them to the appropriate credit bureau so they can be corrected.
Third, consider setting up fraud alerts and potentially a credit freeze if it makes sense for your personal financial situation. If you plan to borrow credit or refinance a loan in the near-term, a blanket credit freeze may not be practical, so you have to evaluate your personal financial situation.
Fourth, review your bank and credit card statements for any suspicious transactions.
Fifth, while Equifax is offering one year of credit monitoring, consider ongoing credit protection measures for longer-term protection.
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One thing consumers should not do in response to the Equifax breach is panic. Instead, they should take time to form a comprehensive credit monitoring and management plan to ensure that they don’t suffer because of this–or any other–breach.
First, consumers should check in with Equifax and sign up for the free credit monitoring service they’re offering. Then, they should proceed to keep a very close watch on their accounts and credit reports. But they shouldn’t necessarily jump to steps like freezing their credit, which can be expensive. It’s best to keep this step as a last resort if you find that you actually are seeing fraudulent information on your accounts.
And consumers also shouldn’t assume they need to pay through the nose to keep an eye on their credit scores. Even free sites like Credit Karma and Quizzle will help them note any new activity on their credit reports. They can check for credit card fraud with existing accounts on their own with a simple monthly review of their credit card statements.
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There are a few steps that people can take now that the Equifax breach has been made public. First, you could find out if you are, in fact, a victim of the breach. One of the only ways to do this is by going to the website that Equifax set up (www.equifaxsecurity2017.com) and put in your last name as well as the last six digits of your social security number. Although putting down the last six digits instead of four digits of your social security number is never advised, this may be the fastest way to find out if you are a victim of the breach. The other way to discover if you were a victim is by receiving a confirmation letter in the mail from Equifax telling you that you were affected.
Second, if you were a victim of the breach (or if you do not know if you were a victim yet), then freezing your credit should give you some time to work out a plan and/or help secure yourself from identity theft damages for the time being. This step can be rather inconvenient because you must unfreeze your credit each time it needs to be ran or if you need to use your credit to make large purchases/take out loans. Freezing and unfreezing credit can also cost you money, which is something to keep in mind if this step is something you’re interested in.
Third, you should look into hiring an identity theft protection service. Whether you were a victim of the breach or not, getting the aid of a professional identity theft company will help you detect any fraudulent activity that may be surrounding your private information. Reliable identity theft companies will monitor your private data 24/7, notify you immediately if there are any potential threats, allow you to see your account at any time, and will help you recover if your identity is stolen while you are using their services. Although you can try to monitor things like your credit reports by yourself, having the help of an identity theft service will be much more effective and will save you a significant amount of time and energy.
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For consumers wanting to protect themselves after the Equifax hack, I ask them to start by reviewing credit reports from the three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Look for suspicious activity — like purchases you don’t recognize — or accounts you don’t recognize. Review all your correspondence, even if you think it’s junk mail, to see whether anyone is ordering goods under your name. Next, open a credit monitoring service through one of the bureaus and check it regularly for fraudulent activity. Finally, place a fraud alert on your account at your bank. I did that during a case of identity theft a while back and it stopped the scammer who had opened an account in my name from going on more shopping sprees.
Ms. Diana Hembree is senior director of content at MoneyGeek.com and a regular contributor to Forbes.com. She is a former senior editor at Time Inc and a former longtime news editor and reporter at the Center for Investigative Reporting (now Reveal). She was an associate producer of the award-winning PBS/Frontline documentary The Great American Bailout and has written for the Washington Post, the Times of London syndicate and many other outlets. And … you will really love her articles!!! Follow Diana at: https://twitter.com/legacyreporter
It doesn’t matter if you were personally affected by the Equifax breach, there are things everyone should be doing no matter what. I always make sure to check my credit reports every year to ensure there are no errors. If you are concerned, you can always initiate a freeze – that locks your report and ensures no one will be able to open a line of credit in your name. If you can get free credit monitoring via a service, sign up for it if you’d like. Alternatively, you can always roll your own DIY style. Companies are being breached all the time (and often you don’t hear about it for months, like in Equifax’s case), so you need to set up systems in place now and keep up with them throughout the year.
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This was by far the worst data breach in history because social security numbers, birthdays and addresses were exposed. Equifax’s response has been poor to say the least and everyone should be protecting themselves even if the Equifax site said they weren’t exposed. It isn’t worth risking identity theft so you should be on the offensive when it comes to protecting yourself. I personally took the free credit monitoring service for a year and I also put on a credit freeze at all three credit agencies. These are simple steps that take only a few minutes and should ensure that no one opens new credit cards/loans in your name.
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The Equifax breach proves again that you can’t trust anyone with your credit information. At the very least, if you aren’t using one of the free sites to check your credit report once a year, what are you waiting for? ABC News reported that over 90% of credit reports have errors. Beyond that, I think it’s time to think about freezing your credit. Remember that there are actually FOUR credit bureaus, and that you should also freeze ChexSystems as well. While it isn’t easy to freeze them all, you won’t have to worry about being hacked the next time this happens.
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The Equifax data breach is unique because of the sensitivity of the information stolen and the fact that no one can really know for certain whether they were affected. Equifax’s website, EquifaxSecurity2017.com, doesn’t specifically say anyone’s information has been stolen. For some users, it suggests that their information “may” have been impacted.
Because of the uncertainty, it’s in all consumers’ best interest to proceed as though they were affected. Everyone should do these three things.
Check your credit report to see if there have been any instances of identity theft, especially accounts you didn’t open or hard credit inquiries you didn’t initiate. Credit Karma and Credit Sesame are two great, free tools to use – and together they cover all three credit bureaus. You can get a full copy of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus from AnnualCreditReport.com if you haven’t ordered them already this year.
Place a security freeze on all three of your credit reports. Even though information from Equifax was exposed, thieves can use your information at businesses that may use any of the three major credit bureaus or even all three. Freezing all three credit reports prevent thieves from opening credit accounts regardless of which credit bureau might be used. Placing a security freeze can cost up to $12 per credit bureau, depending on your state. Equifax is waiving the security freeze fee through November 21, 2017.
Note that you’ll have to temporarily lift the freeze whenever you’re ready to apply for credit. On the plus side, the extra steps can keep you from impulsively opening up new credit card accounts.
Monitor your credit card accounts. About 209,000 credit card numbers were exposed in the breach. Check your credit card statements thoroughly, as you always should, and report any unauthorized charges to your credit card issuer right away. They can reverse the charges and reissue a new account number that hasn’t been compromised.
Ms. LaToya Irby is the founder of CreditRodeo, a personal finance site where people can find very interesting and helpful advice. She is an expert writer with over 10 years of experience, and she writes at TheBalance. If you like this answer, visit: http://creditrodeo.com , get her guide: http://creditrodeo.com/free-guide-raising-credit-score or follow: https://twitter.com/latoyairby
Avoid stress and panic! Equifax breach has already happened and you can’t change it. Stress and panic will only lead you to making wrong decisions about every problem that you face in your life. They won’t give you the ability to change anything.
Visit Equifax’s website, https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. Find out if your information was exposed. Click on the “Potential Impact” tab and enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Your Social Security number is sensitive information, so make sure you’re on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection any time you enter it. The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by this breach.
Get your free credit report and read it carefully. Are there items that you don’t recognize? If so, then this is probably identity theft. If you want to know how to read your credit report visit: https://www.elitepersonalfinance.com/how-to-read-your-credit-report/
Post credit freeze instantly. This is the most secure way to prevent identity theft. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account under your name. Here is our guide on credit freeze , here are the fees that you have to pay, always updated.
Post fraud alert. Here is our guide on fraud alert.
Get free credit monitoring. Use Credit Sesame or Credit Karma.
File your taxes early — as soon as you have the tax information you need and before a scammer can.
Do you have the information that hackers have your credit card or debit card numbers? If so, then cancel them and open new ones with new numbers. Debit and prepaid cards – why don’t you null them or decrease the amount on them for a while?
Recently we posted a survey where we asked people about the most secure way to prevent identity theft. What was the answer? Credit freeze, fraud alert, credit monitoring, you’d say … In fact, the answer with the most votes was: educate yourself on identity theft. Yes, educating yourself about identity theft is a very important step in your life. No one can completely prevent identity theft, but there are many things that people can do to reduce the risk. I know that many people will hate me when I say that there is something positive in the Equifax breach. In fact, everything in this world is designed to have both positive and negative sides … everything! Even the worst things have some positive aspects! And if you ask what the positive thing about the Equifax breach is, the only answer that we can give is that it will actually stimulate people to learn more about identity theft.
If you want to learn from us, here is what we have for you after about 3 years of work:
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If you like us, stay on our site or follow: https://twitter.com/ElitePersonalFi .
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