As you may have heard, 143 million Americans may have been exposed in a data breach by Equifax. Let’s just assume we all are, they got everything, and go from there. If you want to check to see if you are one of the 143 million, you can go here https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and
Like any company that has an identity breach of some sort, they offer a free year of some kind of credit monitoring. Though some have called Equifax out because in the terms of service, there is language that appears to limit your ability to sue them for this breach. Equifax has come out and said that is not that case. I don’t see how a year is long enough if your data is out there.
A credit freeze is like a reinforced door at the Fortress of Solitude, no one is getting in until you “thaw” the freeze. The only downside is that it takes three days to lift the credit freeze. You will need to lift a freeze to obtain credit and, in some cases, apply for a job. This is a minor inconvenience compared to explaining how you didn’t buy a car 5 states over and you don’t want to pay for it.
It will cost you money to place and remove a credit freeze. If that is not something you are prepared to do, you can do an Initial Fraud Alert. The FTC says:
You may also want to place a fraud alert if your personal information was exposed in a data breach. A fraud alert is free. The company you call must tell the other companies about your alert.
This service forces the business to verify your identity. Be sure the credit reporting companies have your current contact information so they can get in touch with you.
Here’s something else that happens when your Social Security Number is stolen:
- File your taxes early — as soon as you have the tax information you need, before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.