Equifax, one of the three big credit bureaus, announced that hackers have illegally accessed 143 million Americans’ private information. This security breach occurred between May and July and was discovered on July 29th. Equifax has said it will notify all victims, but if you’d like to be proactive, here are steps you can take (with caveats).
Protecting Your Online Security: Actions to Consider
- Send a letter through the good, old-fashioned USPS mail requesting a copy of your free annual credit report. Look for anything that should not belong there, such as a new account you did not open or a hard inquiry you did not authorize.
Caveat: Do not order your credit report through the Internet, because in doing so, you would give up important legal rights.
- Enroll in Equifax’s one year free monitoring service.
Caveat: They will not help you repair your credit, only monitor it.
Second Caveat: By signing up, you have to agree not to file a lawsuit against them. (That’s in the fine print under terms and conditions.)
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports for one year warning creditors that you might have been a victim of identity fraud. A link is here.
- Put a security freeze on your credit report, restricting access.
Caveat: If you want to apply for a mortgage, auto loan, or other financing, you will need to remove the freeze so the lender can access your credit report. A link is here.
- Use a free service such as CreditKarma or CreditSesame to watch for new inquiries and/or new accounts.
Caveat: The credit scores from these sites are not your real credit scores from FICO.
Here is the link to Equifax’s page with more information for consumers about cybersecurity.
Stay safe and thank you for reading this post.