As has widely been reported, Equifax, one of the 3 credit major credit reporting bureaus was hacked and 143 Million people's personal information including SSN, birthdate, credit card numbers and more were lost. That means roughly half of the people in the United States are affected.
So, what now? Here are a few helpful things that you can do.
1. Enroll in Equifax's indentity protection program
Equifax is offering a free year of Trust ID, their identity theft protection program. But, be aware: enrolling in the program prevents you from participating in a class-action lawsuit against Trusted ID, but doesn't prevent you from participating in lawsuits related to the cyber-attack.
2. Check your Credit Report
You can check your credit once a year for free at www.annualcreditreport.com. Review your credit report for any accounts that you don't recognize and make sure that the balances for your existing accounts are correct.
3. Setup Fraud Alerts
Your banking and credit card companies offer fraud alert protections. Some of these services are offered for free and others are offered at a small monthly fee. Contact your bank and credit card companies to see what they offer and how they can help protect you.
4. Consider Freezing your Credit
One of the most reliable ways to prevent someone from opening credit accounts in your name is to place what's called a "credit freeze." For just a few dollars, you can freeze your credit at each of the 3 major credit bureaus. But keep in mind when you need to open a new credit account (credit card, auto loan, personal loan or mortgage, etc.) you will have to temporarily unfreeze your credit first.
To freeze your credit, contact each of the credit bureaus online or by using these phone numbers:
The process is usually automated and can be completed within a few minutes. Just be sure to write down your PINs in a secure place - you'll need them when you want to unfreeze your credit.
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