You’ve almost certainly already heard that Equifax, one of the largest credit monitoring companies in the country, lost the personal information of over 143 million Americans (and more than 100,000 Canadians) to hackers. That’s over half of all adults in the U.S.—and one of them could be you.
So what now?
First of all, you need to realize that protecting your identity ultimately falls on your shoulders. Equifax will not notify you if you’ve been affected by this attack, and the information lost could cause problems in not just the immediate future, but also for years and years to come. The information exposed by the Equifax breach includes name, birthdate, address, social security number, driver’s license number, and for some victims, also credit card numbers. Ultimately, everything a criminal needs to steal your identity.
To check if you are at risk, go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and enter your name, the last six digits of your Social Security number and then check the box that confirms “I am not a robot.”
You will either find you are not at risk (at least from this breach) or your information was released. If it was released, Equifax will provide additional information about their planned services for free credit monitoring. However, be sure to realize that this service is only good for one year—which does not protect you for all the years you will be at risk, which is essentially all those that follow.
So, our recommendation for everyone, regardless your status following this particular breach, is:
- Select and enroll with an identity monitoring and protection service such as LifeLock.
- Freeze your credit. This prevents creditors from accessing your credit report, which eliminates those instant approvals for credit, loans or other services. It does not affect your credit score, but does require you to remove the block when there is something you want to apply for. To learn how to institute or temporarily lift a credit freeze, read here.
If there’s a silver lining to the Equifax breach, let’s make it that we all become more aware and proactive with regard to our identities. There’s simply too much at stake not to. If you have any additional questions or would like more recommended resources, please contact Carol Scully at 317-805-7628 | firstname.lastname@example.org or Aaron Shields at 317-805-7594 | email@example.com.
Check out these other helpful resources: