More than 140 million people were affected by the Equifax hack. You have better chances of being a part of it than not being involved. That’s not a good thing. Your personal identifying information as well as financial identity may have been compromised, if not stolen. If you think there’s a chance you were a part of this, read on. We’ll help you know what you should do to protect yourself moving forward.
What Information Did the Hackers Steal?
The hackers in the Equifax hack certainly weren’t new to this. They managed to obtain not only social security numbers, but also birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers. This is more than anyone needs to open accounts in your name.
If you think you were a part of this hack, it’s time for you to learn how to get the proper protection.
Check Your Credit
The first step anyone should take is to check their credit. This doesn’t just mean your Equifax score. You should check it with all 3 bureaus. This differs from checking your credit from one of the free credit reporting companies. You should get your actual report from Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian. You are entitled to a free copy of a report from each company annually. Now is a great time to get yours if you haven’t yet.
There’s a simple reason why you should check all three bureaus – each one might have different information reported. If you’ve ever applied for a mortgage before, you may have been told your “middle score.” This is the middle of the three scores. Some may be higher and some lower. This is because different companies report to different bureaus. It’s unlikely that a company reports to all three.
Take Part in the Equifax Credit Monitoring and Freeze
As a result of the hack, Equifax is offering free credit report monitoring and identity theft protection. This is usually a paid-for service, so taking advantage can save you money. This service stops potential thieves from getting a hold of your information. The credit bureau will first contact you for permission for the company to have access to your information.
This might be a pain and add an extra step in your application processes, it’s meant to protect you. It doesn’t stop you from opening new accounts. Just consider it like another layer in the process. Yes, you’ll have to do more work when you actually want to take out new credit. But, thieves won’t be able to steal your information.
Credit Monitoring Vs. Credit Freeze
The credit monitoring lets you know what already happened to your credit. In other words, you’ll find out after the fact if someone accessed your information. This could become an issue. If you see an issue with your credit on the monitoring report, do something about it right away as it could already be too late. Credit monitoring is different than the freeze.
For some reason if you are unsure whether you should use the credit freeze option or not, consider this:
- If your information was stolen you should definitely take advantage of the credit freeze. Don’t second-guess yourself, you need the protection. You must protect anyone else from getting your information.
- If your information wasn’t stolen, you can opt for credit monitoring alone. You’ll just have to make sure you stay on top of your information to catch any fraudulent activity right away.
If you want more information about the service Equifax offers, visit https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/. From there you can enter your personal information and see if your information was hacked. Even if it wasn’t, you’ll still have the option to sign up for their free service.
Other Ways to Protect Yourself
Just checking your credit and signing up for Equifax’s monitoring and credit freeze isn’t enough. Remember, the hackers already have your information. You need to do some damage control to prevent them from getting any further with what they have on you.
- Change your passwords – You should change all of your passwords now and every 3 months. This way you don’t give anyone too much time to figure out your password. Try not to use the same password for more than one account either.
- Change your pin numbers – Just like your passwords, you should change your pin numbers every 3 months. If you identity was stolen, you’ll want to change it again right away.
- Check your credit cards often – Online access to your credit card accounts makes it easy to check them often. Make it a habit to check your accounts weekly to stay on top of any fraudulent activity.
You should never take your credit for granted. There will always be some type of threat out there. Knowing how to protect yourself and your identity is crucial. Continually changing your passwords and pins are a great help. But, staying on top of your accounts and any suspicious activity is the only way to truly protect yourself in the end.