Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies, handles the data of 820 million consumers and more than 91 million businesses worldwide. On September 7, 2017, they announced a cybersecurity incident impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers between May and July 2017. The information accessed includes 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.
When your credit card information is stolen, it’s easy to fix; call the credit card company to close the stolen card and get a new card with a new number. In most cases, you won’t be responsible for the charges. Some of the victims of the Equifax hack had their credit card numbers exposed. If you’re included in this group, Equifax will notify you in the mail.
However, Equifax won’t notify you directly if you’re one of the 143 million people whose more sensitive information was stolen. Instead, you must go online to EquifaxSecurity2017.com to find out. If your information was compromised, it does not mean your identity was stolen, so don’t panic. Be sure to keep a close eye on your accounts and credit reports, even if everything seems fine right now.
There are some steps you can take right now, like placing a freeze on your credit reports, to help prevent your identity from being stolen in the near future. Freezing your credit reports prevents anyone from opening additional new accounts in your name. Though, you’ll have to request to lift the freeze if you want to open a new line of credit yourself. There are usually fees to freeze and unfreeze that vary by state, but generally range between $5 and $10.
Still confused about the Equifax breach? Here are some myths and what’s true about circulating information.