The 5 Things You Need to do Following the Equifax Breach
Don't Wait to See if Something Happens
Nothing...this is the worst thing you can do following the recent data breach announced by Equifax. With all the high-profile data breaches over the past several years, many of us have become desensitized to what a breach could mean to their personal finances, so we wait to see what happens. In this recent breach, waiting is a very bad strategy because of the nature of the data that was exposed.
If you have applied for credit of any kind - car loan, credit card, home loan - you have a credit report. There are three major credit reporting agencies. Equifax is one of the three major credit reporting agencies, so it’s very likely you have an Equifax credit file if you have credit. On September 8, 2017, Equifax announced that 143 million American consumers sensitive personal information was exposed between mid-May through July 2017.
What Data Was Exposed?
Equifax revealed that the following information was accessed by hackers:
- Social Security numbers
- Birth dates
- Driver’s license numbers
- Credit card numbers of around 209,000 customers
How is this Different than Other Breaches?
This is different than other breaches because it involves the theft of your personally identifying information. In many of the recent breaches, only name and credit or debit card numbers were stolen, which meant the potential fraud was limited to the use of the stolen card numbers. With the theft of your personal information, the implications are far greater. The cyber criminals can use that information to apply for new credit, or access your existing credit accounts. The long-term implications may leave victims vulnerable to identity theft for years.
5 Things You Need to do Now
- Find out if Your Information was Exposed. Visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and click on the “Potential Impact” tab. Enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. (Make sure you’re on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection). The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by this breach.
- Get Your Free Credit Reports. Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion for free at annualcreditreport.com. If you see anything you don’t recognize, visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
- Place a Credit Freeze or Fraud Alert on Your Credit Files. 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. You will need to contact all 3 major credit bureaus to place a credit freeze:
- Equifax: 800-349-9960
- TransUnion: 888-909-8872
- Experian: 888-397-3742
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. You will need to call the same numbers as listed above for the 3 major reporting agencies to place fraud alerts.
- Monitor your Existing Credit Card and Bank Accounts Closely. Look for charges you don’t recognize and report them immediately to your bank or credit card company.
- Mark Your Calendar to File your Taxes Early. Mark your calendar to file your taxes as soon as you have the tax information you need. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to file a tax refund, so if you file before the scammer, they won’t be successful at committing this type of fraud. Also, respond immediately to legitimate letters from the IRS, but be wary of fraudsters using your identity to pose as the IRS.
Please take steps to protect your identity immediately if you are a victim of this breach. Lincoln Savings Bank financial professionals are here to help in any way we can. Please call or stop in to your local branch if you need assistance with any of the steps we have outlined above.
Lincoln Savings Bank, Member FDIC