According to the Federal Trade Commission, 143 million people could be affected by the Equifax data breach that took place from mid-May through July 2017. The credit cards of roughly 209,000 people were exposed, as well as “personal identifying information” on about 182,000 customers involved in credit report disputes.
Equifax is one of three credit-reporting companies nationwide that track and rate the financial history of U.S. residents. Equifax gathers data from credit card companies, banks, lenders, and retailers without having to notify consumers and can possess critical information such as Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and occasionally driver’s license numbers.
Equifax will not be contacting everyone who was affected, but will send direct mail notices to those whose credit card numbers or dispute records were accessed. Equifax will provide a free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection service for one year through TrustedID Premier to anyone who wants to monitor their credit activity.
To see if you were impacted, visit: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com
BBB and the FTC offers these tips:
- Check your credit reports. Go to annualcredit report.com or call 1-877-322-8228. You are entitled to one free report from each credit reporting agency annually.
- Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.
- Monitor your accounts regularly. Check your existing credit card and bank accounts closely. Scammers often test cards with smaller charges before racking up large bills. Confirm each charge on your account line by line.
- Consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
- File your taxes early. As soon as you have the tax information you need, file your taxes. Also, be sure to respond right away to letters from the IRS.