Earlier this month, Equifax reported that from mid-May through July, hackers gained access to the names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver's license numbers of 143 million American consumers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people.
The first step you should take if you are concerned you may have been affected by the Equifax data breach, is to view your potential impact on the Equifax website (link will take you to an external website).
Then Take These Steps to Protect Your Identity:
- Don’t respond to emails, texts or telephone calls asking for personal or financial information.
- Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion and report any accounts or activity that you don't recognize.
- Consider the 1 year of free ID theft protection being offered by Equifax to all Americans (note: There was initially an arbitration clause inserted in the language for the ID-theft monitoring service that Equifax was offering to all consumers. That language has been removed, and the company claims it does not apply in this case.)
- Place an initial fraud alert with a credit bureau, which is free and will apply to all the credit bureaus.
- Consider the benefits and drawbacks of credit freezes, which are more secure and longer-term than fraud alerts, but more restrictive.
- Always use multi-factor authentication when available.
- Update PINs and passwords, including email passwords, and follow best practices (i.e.: using long and complex phrases, and never re-using passwords).
- Enroll and opt-in for transaction monitoring.
- Use card on/off switches (if available).
- Enroll in Verified by VISA / MasterCard Secure Code.
Watch this Video from the Federal Trade Commission on what to do after a data breach: