With over 143 million records compromised, it is very likely that your personal data was compromised in the Equifax data breach. This is particularly troubling because this was a breach of one of the companies that is supposed to be providing credit and identify protection services. Social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers might have been accessed. This is the information someone could use to open bank accounts, credit cards, and loans in your name, as well as file fraudulent tax returns.
First and foremost, find out whether your information was compromised
Go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and select “Potential Impact” to see whether your data was involved. The irony is that they will ask for the last 6 digits of your social security number along with your last name. Be sure that you are using a secure connection (e.g., not public wireless network) when entering this information.
Steps to take if your information was compromised:
- Enroll in TrustedID Premier. This provides you with copies of your Equifax credit report; the ability to lock your Equifax credit report; three-bureau credit monitoring of your Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit reports; Internet scanning for your social security number; and identity theft insurance. Contrary to earlier reports, the Equifax website states that by opting in to this service you are not waiving rights for this cyber incident.
- Check your credit reports. You can do this by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com or through TrustedID Premier.
- Place a fraud alert on your records. 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. Once you place a fraud alert with one nationwide consumer reporting agency, it will be automatically placed with the other two nationwide consumer reporting agencies.
- Consider placing a credit freeze with Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. This is in lieu of placing a fraud alert and provides additional protection. A credit freeze makes it even more difficult for a fraudster to open accounts in your name. It is a good idea to place a credit freeze on your children—if allowed by your state—if they are not going to be taking out any credit accounts in the near term. Click here for more information about putting a credit freeze on your child’s account.
- Consider buying additional fraud protection. Companies like LifeLock, EZShield, Identity Guard, and Complete ID (available to Costco members) provide enhanced monitoring and remediation services for a fee.
- Monitor your bank and credit card accounts closely. Keep an eye open for fraudulent activity and report it immediately.
The Federal Trade Commission provides useful tools to assist you in the event your identity has been compromised. For more information, see their Identity Theft Consumer Information.
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. To help promote security awareness, Wipfli is deploying a “30 Tips in 30 Days” campaign—daily security tips on how to protect yourself, your business, employees, and family from online dangers. We encourage you to sign up for these free tips.