Yesterday Equifax, one of three major credit reporting agencies announced that it had been victimized by a data breach between mid May and July that resulted in personal information of approximately 143 million Americans being stolen. To put this number into perspective it accounts for nearly 44% of the entire population of the United States. The compromised information included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and more. This information puts the victims of the data breach in serious danger of identity theft. In the past when major data breaches such as this have occurred, the cybercriminals sell the information to other cybercriminals on the Dark Web. To date, we have not yet seen this information being sold, but it will be.
Equifax is offering to affected customers a free year of credit monitoring and the ability to freeze your Equifax credit report. To find out if your records were affected by the breach, click on this link provided by Equifax
If you have been affected by the data breach, you should sign up for the free services offered by Equifax and definitely should freeze your credit report at all of the credit reporting agencies because the information stolen puts you in jeopardy of identity theft at all of the credit reporting agencies.
Even if you have not been a victim of the data breach, you should consider taking this as the opportunity to put a credit freeze on your credit reports. Credit freezes are the best thing you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft.
To get started, it’s best to first understand the laws and fees governing credit freezes in your state. The National Conference of State Legislatures describes the credit freeze laws for each state.
To get the maximum protection from identity theft, it is important to freeze your credit at each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Here are links to each of them for information about how to get a credit freeze:
Once you have frozen your credit, be sure to keep the PIN and information on how to unfreeze your credit report in a safe place.