DENVER, COLORADO—Equifax, one of three major nationwide credit reporting agencies, announced yesterday that a massive data breach had potentially compromised the private information of 143 million Americans. This information included Social Security and driver’s license numbers, possibly leaving consumers vulnerable to identity theft.
If you are concerned about identity theft, BBB recommends you place freezes on your credit reports (sometimes referred to as a “security freeze”). To do this, simply contact each of the major credit reporting agencies and be ready to supply your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number. A credit freeze does not impact your credit score but restricts credit agencies’ ability to release your credit report—making it difficult for identity thieves to open accounts in your name. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers more information on credit freezes.
Contact information for the three major credit reporting agencies is as follows:
Equifax has also set up a website that that consumers can use to find out whether they were affected by the breach. The company is also offering its credit monitoring service, TrustedID Premier, free for one year. However, users have reported confusion over whether participating in these services requires customers to waive their right to sue Equifax in court as part of a class-action lawsuit.
Finally, BBB offers some general tips for consumers who are concerned that their credit or debit cards have been compromised.