The Equifax data breach has received huge press coverage and due to the potential consequences, I am providing a brief note on how to protect yourself:
The most extreme and effective action is to place a credit freeze on all three of your credit bureau files (Equifax, Transunion, Experian). A credit freeze locks your credit bureau files so no one, including you, will be approved for new credit. However, there are drawbacks:a.
- Depending on the state you live in there will be a $0 - $15 fee to set this up. The fee for Michigan is $10.
- You will have to pay to lift the freeze each time you apply for credit or need a potential landlord or employer to check your credit.
- You’ll receive a PIN to “thaw” your credit. – Do Not Lose It!
- Due to millions of inquiries, systems are slow.
A less extreme measure is to place a fraud alert on your accounts.
- Creditors will alert you if someone attempts to apply for credit in your name.
- It only lasts 90 day, but you can renew repeatedly.
- You only need to place the alert with one company, they are obligated to place the alert with the other two.
- You can also set up fraud alerts for your credit and debit cards.
Check your credit reports from all three credit bureaus.
Monitor your personal information on an ongoing basis and be on the lookout for identity theft.
- Review your bank and credit statements regularly and look for any suspicious transactions.
- Take advantage of any alert features so that you are notified when suspicious activity is detected.
Consider signing up for Credit Karma (https://creditkarma.com/). You will get free credit scores and free monitoring of your credit reports. If anything unusual happens, they will contact you.
If you have additional questions for Equifax you can call the company’s dedicated call center at 866-447-7559. The call center is open seven days a week from 7AM - 1AM EST.
I hope you found this information helpful and if you have further questions, feel free to contact our office.