Equifax, one of the large three credit reporting companies was recently hacked. Over 143 million Americans had their personal information like driver’s license, Social Security number and date of birth compromised. If you have ever applied for a mortgage, refinanced a home, purchased a car, or use credit cards, there is a good chance you are at risk. Experts recommend several steps to protect yourself from people (scum of the earth) who can use this information fraudulently to open accounts in your name.
- Get a credit report. You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) once every 12 months. You can request them all at once or space them out over the year.
- Accept the Equifax Offer to Monitor Your Credit for Free. Go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. At the top of the page you can enroll in a complementary identify theft protection and credit file monitoring service. Provide your name and the last 6 digits of your social security number. The computer will scan to see if your information was compromised. Whether your information was compromised or not, you can still enroll in the free service for 12 months. The enrollment period for this free service ends in November.
- Request Fraud Alerts. Ask Transunion to place fraud alerts on your credit file. You may need to complete a requested form. Confirm that the credit reporting company you notified will notify the other two companies.
- Install a Security Freeze on Your Credit. This is a way for you to have maximum control over your credit. Placing a freeze on your credit report will prevent lenders and others from accessing your credit report in response to a new credit application. You will need to remember to lift the credit freeze prior to applying for any new credit.
- Change Your Passwords. It is important to change passwords periodically. Some cybersecurity experts recommend using a password for financial sites that is different from the password you
use for other websites you visit.
- Monitor Your Accounts. Monitor bank statements and credit cards for any unusual activity. Thieves will often charge a small amount to test the account and then come back for large charge or withdrawal.