How the Major Data Breach by Equifax Affects YOU — 3 Steps To Take Action [Money Tip]

by Belinda Rosenblum

In a major data breach revealed yesterday by credit reporting company Equifax, as many as 143 million people may have had their information exposed, including addresses, birth dates, and social security numbers. Roughly 209,000 U.S. customers may have also had credit card numbers leaked.

That makes this one of the largest data breaches in history as it is affecting almost half of the entire U.S. population.

Based on the company’s investigation, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017, and was discovered July 29th — I can’t even believe they are just announcing it now (after 3 executives sold $1.8billion of stock, but that’s a whole other story being pursued)!

So what do YOU do next?

FIRST, Check and see if you are affected as a start. (I checked and I may be!) Equifax has established a dedicated website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, to help consumers determine if their information has been potentially impacted and to sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. But know that you do waive your rights to participate in a possible class action lawsuit if you choose this option. They are actually offering free credit monitoring services to any U.S. consumer at no cost for one year per NBC News.

Besides on their website, you can see if there were any credit inquiries or even new credit cards taken out with your information by running your report (for free) at www.annualcreditreport.com or even checking for any “hard inquiries” on free credit monitoring you may already have like from CreditKarma.com or your credit card.

SECOND, I interviewed top Identity Theft expert, Robert Siciliano, after the Blue Cross Blue Shield/Anthem data security breach where he stated, “Consider your information breached … and in the hands of a criminal right now.” Ugh! Key though is to “make the data useless to the thief.”

Robert shares how in this quick video, including why you may want to consider a credit freeze and add alerts or notifications of certain activity:

CAC #3

THIRD, Just as I highlighted in last week’s money tip, this incident also adds urgency to be sure you review your credit card and bank statements regularly to look for suspicious or unusual activity. MANY of my clients have caught fraud to their accounts on the day it started BECAUSE they were in the habit (and had worked through the fears they had) of checking their activity online daily.

LASTLY, if you’d like to review some of the top articles I researched, here are the direct links:

How to find out if you’re affected by the Equifax hack

Massive Equifax Data Breach Could Impact Half of the U.S. Population (featuring expertise from Robert Siciliano interviewed in the video above)

5 simple steps to protect yourself from the massive Equifax data breach

5 Ways to Protect Your Finances After Equifax Data Breach

Equifax: 143M US consumers affected by criminal cybersecurity breach

And the official FTC suggestions too.

Add a comment below with what actions you are taking to protect your own identity!

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