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Equifax Hack - What to do Now?

While most eyes were on Hurricane Irma this past weekend, the other big threat making the news was the announcement from Equifax, one of the three credit reporting agencies, of a major security breach.

Here are the facts, according to Equifax:

The breach lasted from mid-May through July. The hackers accessed people's names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver's license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people.

Equifax has created a special link to use to see if your data was potentially exposed - www.equifaxsecurity2017.com .  At this link you'll be asked to provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security Number (SSN).  The system will let you know if your data was potentially exposed and provide an enrollment link to the TrustedID Premier monitoring service.

Note that the system will not confirm whether your identity has been stolen, but rather it was potentially exposed.

Here are some other steps to take to help protect yourself after a data breach:
  • Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - for free - by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don't recognize could indicate identity theft.  Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
  • 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 existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don't recognize.
  • If you decide against a credit freeze, 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, before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.

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