It appears we hear of new data breaches every day. From Arby’s to Saks Fifth Avenue, in 2017 alone there were 27 before the recent breach at Equifax. What differentiates Equifax from the other entities is that Equifax is one of the three largest credit agencies in the U.S. It is unsettling, to say the least, but there are steps you can take to protect your information:
Check to see if your information was compromised.
Always closely monitor your credit card statements.
If your information was compromised, call your credit card companies and inquire as to whether they recommend changing account numbers and/or issuing new cards.
Review your credit report.
AnnualCreditReport.com provides one free credit report per year.
Consider freezing your credit
The Federal Trade Commission has provided these guidelines regarding a credit freeze. A credit freeze does not:
- Prevent you from getting your free annual credit report.
- Keep you from opening a new account, applying for a job, renting an apartment, or buying insurance. However, if you are doing any of these, you will need to lift the freeze temporarily, either for a specific time or a specific party, say, a potential landlord or employer. The cost and lead times to lift a freeze vary, so it is best to check with the credit reporting company in advance.
- Prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts. You still need to monitor all bank, credit card and insurance statements for fraudulent transactions.
Equifax is currently waiving their credit freeze fee. Each of the three credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – charge between $5-$10.
The Nuclear Option
If you do find yourself affected by this data breach to the point of identity theft or other life-altering implications, you can file for a new Social Security Number.
There is nothing pleasant about any of these activities but please take a moment and do your due diligence for your protection. We are also available if you have any questions. Please don’t hesitate to contact us.