If you are reading this, you might be one of the 143 million individuals whose confidential data was compromised through the Equifax data breach. The data breach occurred from mid-May to July and was reported by Equifax on September 17th, 2017. The breach affected not only Americans but Canadians whose Names, birth dates, Social security numbers, addresses, driver’s license number and in some cases credit card information. This implies there could be a possibility of identity theft which could be used to open a new account or take over existing ones through the data stolen.
Equifax is offering a one-year free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection to everyone, whether affected or not. Enrollment is through the newly opened website where you’ll also know if you are affected by the breach. You should be aware that by accepting Equifax offer, you are limiting your right to sue Equifax in event of any damage originating through the breach. However, this is not enough as you have to take your financial security serious by putting measures in place. Consider the following steps to protect yourself from any unsanctioned use of your personal data;
1. Review Account Statement Regularly
Through www.annualcreditreport.com you can request for your credit from each of the credit reporting agencies; Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. With this in mind, carry out a thorough look into your account statement yourself and spot any anomaly. You may request for your credit report quarterly since you have access to three reports annually. Immediately you point out unauthorized activities, please notify your bank and credit card company immediately. Depending on the magnitude, involve law enforcement agencies also.
2. Place a Security Freeze on Your Credit Files
This is arguably the best and fastest option to protect yourself from this breach. Protect your identity from being used to cause havoc by immediately requesting for a nuclear freeze on your credit line in all the three credit reporting agencies. Luckily, Equifax will not be charging those affected by the security freeze. However, you should also have in mind that there are some financial frauds that could be perpetrated without a credit check. Still, this is an effective mechanism to protect your finances from being wrecked.
3. Early Tax Payment
This will put you ahead of whoever is trying to use your identity. Respond as a matter of urgency to any letter from IRS. You should know that your tax identity can be used to request a tax refund or get a job.
4. Fraud Alerts on Your Account
This is an alternative to a security freeze. Not as effective as credit freeze but will still go a long way to ensure you are protecting. With a fraud alert put in place, creditors will have to contact you in the event that anyone is trying to seek for credit using your information.
5. Consult Credit Repair Consultants
You will be wondering where and why you need credit repair. This is a proactive mechanism you are putting in place to protect yourself from whatever those who perpetrated the data breach could be scheming.