Recommendations to Protect Yourself From the Recent Equifax Data Breach

Recommendations to Protect Yourself From the Recent Equifax Data Breach

On September 7, 2017, Equifax, one of the three large credit reporting bureaus, announced a cybersecurity incident impacting approximately 143 million USA consumers.

Their proposed remedy - an offer of a year's free credit monitoring to any adult in the United States - seems woefully inadequate in light of the fact that the apparently stolen information does not expire after one year.

Also consider paying for an identity theft monitoring service, which will add that extra layer of protection. These freezes - far more secure than credit monitoring alone - can prevent hackers from stealing your identity to open up a credit card or new account in your name. Equifax is one the three major for-profit companies that compile financial information to provide reports on consumer credit worthiness to lenders and other financial institutions.

In many jurisdictions, plaintiffs must prove that they suffered actual damage as the result of the Equifax hack, which exposed names, home addresses, Social Security numbers.

Washington Post: Equifax finally responds to swirling concerns over consumers' legal rights - "Sharp-eyed social media users have combed through the Equifax data breach site's fine print - and found what they argue is a red flag".

Equifax has been lobbying lawmakers and regulators on issues regarding "data security and breach notification" and "cybersecurity threat information sharing". But when you're not looking to take out any loans or open any lines of credit, it can be a financial lifesaver. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to obtain free copies of your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

After receiving your freeze request, each credit reporting company will send you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN (personal identification number) or password.

But even that doesn't totally protect your information since your data isn't fully frozen until it is on ice at all three credit bureaus. You call the credit card company to close the card and get a new number.

Equifax has created a website for Americans to enroll in and check to see if their personal information was compromised. It's generally recommended that you unlock your credit file a day or so before you know a bank or creditor will be trying to pull your credit report.

But not every bureau has an identical set of financial information on every person, which accounts for even more variability in credit scores. He says it's a good idea to freeze your credit immediately.

In response to public outcry, Equifax announced that fees to freeze your credit will be waived for the next 30 days. Millions of Americans' most sensitive personal information is now out there for sale to thieves and governments. Experian, for example, has suffered more than 100 data breaches in recent years, and one of its subsidiaries sold data to a Vietnamese ID theft ring that committed fraud on a massive sale.

Peterson cautioned those affected to be sure they are signing up for Equifax's free service and not its paid service.

A spokeswoman for the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, which is the central agency in Canada, that collects identification theft complaints and other related matters, has not received any complaints in connection with the Equifax hack.

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