On September 7, 2017, Equifax CEO Rick Smith announced that on July 29, 2017 Equifax suffered a data breach between May and July 2017. The breach may have included the personal credit information of 143 million Americans, including social security numbers, birthdates, addresses, driver's license numbers and credit account information. As a point of comparison, there are only about 126 million households in America.
What does this breach mean for me?
If a malicious actor were to get your personal information, they could sell it, or use it to impersonate you. They could open credit accounts in your name, and use them for illegal means. This could lead to lowering your credit score, or having charges pressed against you for non-payment. It is a serious breach, but there are steps you can take to mitigate the fall-out.
What can I do to protect myself?
- Consider a credit monitoring/protection service. Visit the Equifax website, where you can check to see if your record is impacted.
- Based on the number of enrollments, they will give you an enrollment date. On your enrollment date, you will have to return to the link they gave you and continue through the enrollment process. Once enrolled, Equifax will monitor your credit and alert you if there is a problem.
- Setup your personal account on SSA.gov. The stolen information from this breach could potentially be used to open an account with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and perpetrate tax fraud. We recommend creating an SSA account as a preemptive measure.
- Consider freezing your credit accounts. A freeze tells the four major credit agencies that your credit report should not be shared and a new line of credit should not be opened when requested. You can unfreeze your account with a PIN if you want to take out a loan in the future. In order to freeze your credit, you must notify each of the major credit bureaus. Brian Krebs, a renowned information security professional has a great post that covers this topic in detail.
- Check your credit report annually.
What if I have more questions?
In addition to information provided on their website, Equifax also has a toll free number setup, 1-866-447-7559, although some callers are reporting a fast busy signal due to high call volume.