September 14, 2017
If you were a victim of the recently announced Equifax hack, you need to take action to mitigate any negative impact it may have on your finances and credit. If you’re not sure if you were affected, you can use Equifax’s Potential Impact tool to find out. You will need to input your last name and the last six digits of your social security number to use this tool.
Unfortunately, hacks like this one are likely to happen again, so it’s vital to prepare by protecting your digital information as much as possible. Here are some steps you can take to begin the process:
- Set up fraud alerts with the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to alert you if someone tries to apply for credit in your name.
- Use the fraud alerts that are available for your credit and debit cards, if you don’t already.
- Consider credit freezes to lock your credit files to stop any new credit information releases. This will prevent any new accounts being opened in your name by an identity thief.
- Check your credit report. You can get one free credit report every year from all three major reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com. It is advisable to check in every four months, using one of your “freebie” reports rather than using them all at once. When you get your credit report, look for any suspicious activity. This should be a regular part of your financial self-monitoring.
- Consider a credit monitoring service. Equifax is offering one free year of credit monitoring. However, before signing up you should review the terms of the agreement—and those of any other credit monitoring services that you may consider.
The Equifax hack is one more reminder of how critical it is to regularly monitor your financial and personal information for potential theft and misuse. If you do suspect that your information has been compromised, contact one of the credit reporting agencies mentioned above and the FTC Identity Theft Hotline at (877) IDTHEFT (438-4338).