There has been quite a bit written about the Equifax data breach – why it happened; how it happened; and what you can do about it.
The most important thing for our clients is the what you can do about it. We’ve listed several steps you can take to help protect your credit report, as well as put some measures into place that may protect it in the future.
- Find out if your credit information was exposed (with over 140 million people’s account compromised, let’s just say it was). You can do this by visiting the Equifax website and following the instructions on the “Potential Impact” tab. Note: You should use a secure computer and encrypted network for this rather than a public computer an wifi, such as you might find at a coffee shop. Once you’ve done this step, you’ll be asked to revisit the site to receive one year of free credit monitoring.
- Place a credit freeze on your credit reports. But, you must unlock the report before you need to apply for credit, such as a business or personal loan, car loan, or employment verification if credit report checking is required for the job. It does not affect the use of credit cards you already have. The credit freeze prevents:
- Requests for credit and is free;
- New accounts from being opened in your name; and
- Others from registering you on government websites, such as my Social Security.
- Get an electronic PIN from the IRS for tax-return purposes. A tax return may not be filed without the pin code.
- Check your medical records using patient portals to get a baseline for your report prior to any breach. Two resources to consider include MIB Consumer file and Milliman Intelliescript.
- Your driver’s license is also a great way for someone to user your name to put their violations against. To protect yourself, get a copy of your driving record from the motor vehicle department. Most MVD charge a small fee for the request; check with them before ordering it.
- You can also find out if any bad checks have been attributed to your driver’s license by checking your free, annual consumer report from one or all three of these companies -- ChexSystems, Certegy, and TeleCheck.
- Consider placing a fraud alert on all your credit cards. Do this by working directly with the card provider. There may be fees associated with this request.
For more about what to do in the case of a data breach, watch this short video from IdentityTheft.gov.
Remember, hackers are well aware of this breach and may not try to do anything for months. Ongoing credit monitoring is always a good way to know what’s going on in your name and with your money.