Cyber Alert - Equifax Breach
On September 7th, Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the nation, announced that approximately 143 million U.S. consumers - nearly half of the population of the U.S. - had their personal information compromised in a data hack. Based on the company's investigation, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017 and primarily included accessing names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver's license numbers. In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers, were accessed. Here are some steps you can take to help protect yourself:
- Determine If You Were Impacted - Visit equifaxsecurity2017.com to determine if your information was compromised. You will need to provide your full legal name and the last six digits of your Social Security Number. If your information has been compromised, you will have the ability to sign up for credit monitoring and identity theft protection.
- Check Your Credit Reports - Each year you have free access to your credit report from each of the main credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Visit: annualcreditreport.com. This is a free service. Account or activity that you do not recognize could indicate identity theft.
- Consider a Credit Freeze - A credit freeze restricts access to your credit records, adding extra security measures before your identity can be used to open an account. It does not prevent a thief from using any of your existing accounts, and needs to be set up at each of three major credit monitoring agencies. The Federal Trace Commission (FTC) has more information on a credit freeze and the next steps at consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs (Equifax: 866-349-5191, Experian: 888-397-3742, Transunion: 888-909-8872)
- Consider a Fraud Alert on your Accounts - If you don't choose a credit freeze, you can place a fraud alert on your files. For more information on fraud alerts, the FTC has information at consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs#difference
- Monitor Your Finances - If your information has been compromised, you might not see an immediate reaction. Be sure to monitor all of your financial accounts for unauthorized transactions or activity. If activity is identified, call the credit card company or bank immediately about any charges you do not recognize.
- Pay Close Attention to Correspondence from the IRS - A common security theft involves filing false tax returns. While it's not an option for everyone, filing your taxes early can help deter this type of fraud. You can also establish an Identityt Protection PIN (IP PIN) with the IRS. Access the IRS assistance page, irs.gov/identity-theft-fraud-scams/identity-protection, or get the form here: irs.gov/identity-theft-fraud-scams/get-an-identity-protection-pin.
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