As many of you are likely aware, it’s been recently reported that Equifax suffered a security breach from mid-May through July that has compromised the personal identifying information of as many as 143 million or more consumers in the United States, UK and even Canada. Because names, addresses, social security numbers, birthdates and even driver license numbers were accessed by the perpetrators, many consumers are in obvious panic mode wondering what to do and how to immediately protect their identities from being used in fraudulent situations.
The FTC has issued instruction this morning directed to consumers that informs of what to do. These instructions can be easily shared through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It’s highly recommended that YOU follow the steps indicated in the article and also pass this information on to help educate as many consumers as possible about the breach and the steps they can take to have best chance at protecting their identities. They will appreciate your sharing the guidance with them.
Summary of Quick Steps Everyone Can & Should take NOW:
Visit Equifax’s website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. 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.
Whether or not your information was exposed, U.S. consumers can get a year of free credit monitoring and other services. The site will give you a date when you can come back to enroll. Set a calendar reminder of the date and come back to the site and click “Enroll” on that date. You have until November 21, 2017 to enroll.
Order your free annual credit report from the bureaus (not just Equifax, but all of them if you are able). Review the reported data for accuracy and assure no credit is reporting that you did not personally authorize. If you find any questionable tradelines or inquiries that do not belong to you, dispute them by explaining you did not authorize the opening of such credit and fear your identity has been used as a result of the Equifax security breach.
If you indeed do find new tradelines or inquiries you did not authorize, file a formal complaint with the FTC at identitytheft.gov.
You may wish to place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit files at the bureau level to implement an added layer of protection.
A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts. It is intended to stop fraudsters from opening any new credit using your identifying info.
Be sure to monitor your bank and credit card statements to assure no unauthorized charges are reporting. Alert your financial institutions to watch for patterns of charges that do not coincide with the account use you’ve displayed prior to the breach period and that you wish to be alerted of any questionable charges or new patterns.
Review the new IRS Taxpayers Guide to Identity Theft which explains the new identity theft procedures being implemented by IRS for 2017 tax filing season. You will want to file your income taxes as soon as possible in the next tax season. Note: The IRS identity theft procedures are changed from prior year instructions so you will want to make sure you are informed and educated about them.
Visit the FTC’s Site Identitytheft.gov/databreach to learn more about protecting yourself after a data breach.
Refer to the Equifax Data Breach Site for additional information including a helpful list of FAQs.