The recent Equifax data breach that has been featured in the news this last week may impact many of us and should concern all. The breach has exposed names, addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers, and driver license numbers for most adult Americans. This data is now available to criminals worldwide via the “dark” side of the Internet.
In response, Equifax created a web page which allegedly provides the capability to find out if you are affected by the breach (visit: https://www.equifax.com/personal/?/). However, IT professionals have tested the site, and they have discovered that various fictitious names and social security number fragments receive responses of either “you may be affected” or “you are not affected”. Therefore, it may be prudent to just assume that your information was included in the breached data and evaluate your options, if you haven’t already.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published information on its website last week which outlines steps you should consider in protecting yourself following this data breach. The steps range from monitoring your credit reports, as well as activity on your credit cards and bank accounts, to placing a credit freeze on your files (visit: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-data-breach-what-do).
If you are concerned, you should freeze your credit. The FTC has provided guidance and contact information as well (visit: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs). Please be aware that you will need to place a freeze with all three credit reporting agencies to be best protected. A small fee of $5 to $10 may apply with each agency when freezing and unfreezing your credit report.
The three credit agencies web pages are listed here for convenience: