As has been widely covered in the media, Equifax has recently reported a major data breach, including the personal information of more than 140 million U.S. consumers.
To Protect Yourself Now
After an event like this, we frequently see an increase in phishing attacks, so we suggest being extra vigilant during this time. Attackers commonly use major news stories as "headline items" in their emails, attempting to gain a quick level of trust or to capitalize on the recipient’s curiosity.
Current reporting suggests that Equifax is not contacting consumers directly to notify them of the breach. This means any emails you receive from someone claiming to be Equifax are likely a phishing attack. If you want to determine if the breach has impacted you, Equifax suggests calling 866-447-7559.
Other Next Steps
- Monitor your credit. You may check your credit reports once per year for free on AnnualCreditReport.com. Any accounts or activity you don’t recognize could be from identity theft, and we recommend visiting IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
- Consider placing a credit freeze (or security freeze) on your files through each of the credit bureaus. A credit freeze does not affect your credit score but does make it more difficult for a thief to open an account in your name. Visit the FTC website to learn more.
- Monitor your existing credit cards, bank accounts, and insurance statements for any charges you don’t recognize. Keep in mind that some thieves make small charges (< $100) on many accounts in order to stay under the radar.
- Visit IdentityTheft.gov/databreach for more suggested steps you can take if your data was compromised.
- Don’t just throw away, but shred all documents that contain any personal information. Many outside companies, such as office supply stores, offer this service.
- If you're married, consider taking the above steps for both you and your spouse.