Equifax, one of the United States’ three major consumer credit reporting agencies, recently reported a breach that compromised the personal information of approximately 143 million Americans. The nature of this breach is particularly alarming because many consumers may not even know they are customers of the company. Equifax receives information from multiple sources including banks, lenders, credit card companies and retailers. Names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s licenses were among the information stolen from Equifax’s databases.
Credit card numbers for about 209,000 people were exposed, as was “personal identifying information” on roughly 182,000 customers involved in credit report disputes.
How to determine if you were one of the 143 million Americans affected
- Visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to find out if your information was exposed. Click on the “Potential Impact” tab. You will be asked to enter your last name and last six digits of your Social Security number.
- Whether or not your information was exposed, U.S. consumers can get a year of free credit monitoring. You have until November 20, 2017 to enroll.
- Keep in mind, if you sign up for Equifax’s offer of free identity theft protection and credit file monitoring, you may be limiting your rights to sue and be forced to take disputes to arbitration.
Additional steps you can take
- Review your transactions regularly. Monitor your credit card statements and credit report for any accounts or charges you don’t recognize. You can order a free report from each of the three credit bureaus once a year.
- Consider placing a credit freeze, making it difficult for someone to open a new account in your name.
- File your taxes early, before a scammer can.
- Respond right away to letters from the IRS. Remember the IRS will never call.
We are closely monitoring this issue and will keep you informed of any new developments.