A little over 10 days ago, news stories were focused on the hack of Equifax, one of the big three credit bureaus. It’s truly huge. Over 143 million people’s records were compromised in the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom between May and July of this year. On Monday, it was disclosed an earlier breach took place in March of this year involving a payroll related service, possibly involving the same intruders.
The data accessed from the most recent breach includes social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, and other information. This is more than enough to steal the victims’ identities and plague them with false financial issues for years to come. Here’s an outline of steps to take to determine if you’re impacted by this breach and how to plug the hole.
Step 1: If you haven’t already done so, go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to determine if you have been potentially compromised. I did this and discovered both Sheri and I were.
Step 2: Enroll in the credit monitoring service. It’s free for one year and worth it. The service also comes with $100,000 of insurance coverage to help defray any cost associated with the theft of your identity. The deadline to enroll in the free credit monitoring service is November 21, so don’t delay.
I suggest everyone at least find out if they have been potentially compromised. It takes a minute to do so and will at least let you know what actions you can take to protect yourself.
Going forward there are several steps you can take to safeguard yourself from any nasty surprises. Here are 5 actions you can take from a Bloomberg article by Simon Dawson.
- Pull a free credit report every four months from one of the three credit bureaus by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. This gives you a rolling snapshot of your credit and enables you to spot suspicious activity.
- Consider a security freeze so no information can be released from your files without your permission.
- Have a security alert placed on your accounts. This puts a flag on your accounts and shows extra steps are needed to protect your security.
- Get a fraud alert through each of the credit bureaus which provides real-time alerts if someone tries to open an account in your name.
- Use your bank’s mobile app and set it up to text alerts to you for any activity and monitor all transactions.
These actions need to become a lifelong practice even if nothing unusual happens with your information during the next 12 months. Identity thieves can use it any time after the free monitoring expires, and I’d believe more such data breaches will occur in the future.
What steps are you taking to protect yourself? Share them with me, along with your questions, comments, and experiences on my Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!