Steps To Protect Yourself from Equifax Data Breach 2017

Posted By Law Office of Simon Goldenberg, PLLC || 4-Oct-2017

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)

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References:

(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.

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