Given the recent headlines regarding the credit reporting agency Equifax,
its is understandable to be concerned about the status of your credit
and the security of your personal information. While it is easy to ascertain
that the Equifax data breach is bad for the American public, understanding
the personal implications of such a breach may prove to be more difficult.
In the following article we hope to clarify the details of the Equifax
data breach and what it means for you, regardless of whether or not you
were one of the 145 million Americans affected.
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FACTS ABOUT THE BREACH
The chain of events in the Equifax security breach are as follows: Sometime
in the middle of May, a software vulnerability at Equifax was exploited
by hackers with the intent of accessing personal account information.
From that point until the end of June the hackers gained access to information
on over 145 million American consumers, obtaining details such as names,
addresses, social security numbers, and driver’s license numbers.
In addition to this information, it is estimated that around 209,000 individual
credit card numbers were compromised.(1) Currently, the United States
Congress has assembled a committee to hold hearings in which the former
executives of the company are expected to testify as to the cause of the breach.
STEPS TO MONITOR YOUR CREDIT:
In light of these events there are some steps that everyone, even if they
are unaffected by the breach, should consider taking to prevent a compromise
of their credit. If you are looking to take these steps, your primary
goal should be to ascertain whether or not your information was compromised
in the breach. To accomplish this, visit the site that
Equifax has designed with the specific intent of determining if you were affected. It should be noted that this page also contains a link to the one year
of free credit monitoring that Equifax is offering, regardless of affected
status. Once you have determined whether your data has been compromised,
it may be beneficial to check your credit report at all three of the major
credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). Perhap
the most comprehensive option that you may consider is a credit freeze,
a process which will be detailed further in the next section.
HOW TO FREEZE YOUR CREDIT:
A credit freeze is a process by which a person puts a hold on their credit
that prohibits access to information about their credit report without
their specific pin number. All three of the largest credit reporting agencies
offer credit freezes, though in most states there are fees associated
with both freezing and unfreezing your credit. It should be noted that
the year of credit monitoring by Equifax does include free freezing, but
both Experian and TransUnion will still charge for a freeze. Conveniently,
U.S. PIRG has assembled a
map that outlines the fees associated with freezing for every state. If you
are located in the state of New York, there are no fees involved with
freezing or thawing.(2)
Need help with identity theft, fraud, or a credit report error?
credit repair lawyers for a free phone evaluation! (888) 301-0584
(1) Gressin, Seena. (The Equifax Data Breach: What to Do, https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-data-breach-what-do)
(2) U.S. PIRG (Interactive Map Shows Consumers In 42 States Have No Access
To Free Credit Freezes, http://www.uspirg.org/news/usp/interactive-map-shows-consumers-42-states-have-no-access-free-credit-freezes)
*Not legal advice. For informational purposes only.