I’m sure everyone is painfully aware of the recent data breach at Equifax. Industry experts are suggesting that this breach was a state-sponsored hack, and I believe them. Chances are everyone reading this newsletter has had their personal financial information compromised. You must take action.
Go to annualcreditreport.com and get a free copy of your credit reports from the big three and review for discrepancies. You can go to the official Equifax site and jump through their hoops just don’t use other sites: Some are scams. Annualcreditreport.com is the official site.
- Freezing your credit is a protective measure, my family chose. You can contact each credit reporting agency individually, or in our case, pay Experian to freeze accounts at all three agencies. Not sure if Experian is still offering this option, but it saved some hassle!
- Freezing your credit can be done online or you can call each of the three reporting agencies: TransUnion: 1-888-909-8872; Equifax: 1-800-349-9960; Experian: 1-888-397-3742.
- Freezing your credit takes about 30-45 minutes per identity.
- There are some additional costs and time associated with unfreezing your credit when you apply for a new credit card or home/auto loan. Additionally, applying for a rental agreement, new utility service or even cell phone agreements may be impacted. When you unfreeze your credit, it can only be unfrozen with your PIN. Don’t lose it!
- Freezing and unfreezing your credit may be easier than cleaning up after having an identity stolen.
- Instituting a fraud alert is another option, but in my opinion, the credit freeze is adequate.
I suspect each of the credit reporting firms is doing a top-down security risk assessment, so hopefully a recurrence is unlikely.
More info is available at Federal Trade Commission’s Equifax Data Breach page.