There’s been a colossal breach that you need to know about. Yes, this is serious, and yes, you need to take action. This breach is extremely frustrating and depending on the information that Equifax has about you, this can very easily lead to your identity being stolen.
Equifax, a consumer credit reporting agency, has been hacked. 143 million customer records have been exposed. These records include social security numbers, credit card account numbers, birth dates, history on any physical addresses you’ve been associated with, and a ton of other personal information that credit agencies use to validate your identity. Even if you think you’ve never used Equifax, they very likely have data about you and your credit information. This breach will very easily be one of the largest of its kind in the United States as it impacts over half of the US population. I’m positive its effects will be felt for years and years to come. And, to make matters worse, Equifax doesn’t seem to be reaching out to those who’ve had their data breached.
What To Do
To check if you’ve been affected, you can use their website they set up at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/. Be aware that this will not tell you what data has been stolen/exposed but it will confirm whether you’re at risk or not. Be aware that if you are affected, you’ll be eligible for one year of free credit monitoring, but note that 1) you’ll have to enroll next week on the date they specify (and they will not remind you to do so), and 2) you may be waiving your rights to sue unless you notify Equifax in writing that you’d like to opt out. (I, personally, plan to opt out in writing, but it isn’t clear if this clause is enforceable anyway.)
A good idea from now on is to always monitor your credit – you need to be familiar with the signs of identity theft. Make sure you monitor your credit card statements for any charges you haven’t made. It would also be a great time to freeze your credit and set a fraud alert. Here’s a great guide on how to do these – go to step 4.
Additionally, it’s always good to remember to use strong, unique, and secure passwords online for each website that uses a login. You can get notifications if any of your accounts or passwords are at risk by signing up for free alerts from Have I been pwned? or similar.
- The FCC has made a detailed post on what to do.
- Here’s a very well-written article to learn more about this massive event via CNET.
- There’s also this article that details possible legal options.
Finally, I’d strongly recommend you reach out to friends, family, and other loved ones to let them know about this incident. I firmly believe that Equifax isn’t sending this message out strongly enough to those affected, and it is up to us to make sure we’re all protected and know that our personal data may be out there.