The data breach announced by Equifax will impact 143 million people. Extremely sensitive personal information has been compromised including Social Security Numbers, addresses, birth date, credit card account numbers - all of which can be used to steal your identity and wreak havoc on your personal life.
“This breach could expose you to identity theft for a long time to come,” said BBB president, Sue McConnell. “Always be vigilant and check bank and credit card statements carefully and report irregularities quickly. Make it a habit to get your free copies of credit reports every year. If you see any suspicious activity, report it immediately to the credit reporting agency.” BBB also advises that you could be at risk for tax ID theft and other consequences in the future from this type of breach.
Better Business Bureau offers these steps:
Get a security freeze on your credit reports. A freeze will put your information on lockdown, meaning the credit bureaus can’t give it out without your permission making it more difficult for an identity thief to open an account in your name. A security freeze will not impact your credit score or impair your ability to use your existing credit cards. To be effective, a freeze must be set up with all three credit bureaus. Experian: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html; Transunion https://freeze.transunion.com; Equifax: https://www.freeze.equifax.com. There is a $5 fee for each freeze. If you need to give access to a creditor, you can request a "thaw" on the report later for a specific creditor or specific period of time for an additional $5 fee.
Monitor your accounts regularly. Check every charge on your statements. Scammers often test cards with smaller charges before racking up large bills. Confirm each charge on your account line by line.
Sign up for alerts on your credit card, debit, and bank accounts.
Accept or enroll in free identity protection services that breached companies offer you. Equifax has created equifaxsecurity2017.com to visit to determine if you were impacted and to enroll in free credit monitoring.
Check your credit report. Go to annualcredit report.com or call 1-877-322-8228. You are entitled to one free report from each credit reporting agency annually.