WHAT TO DO ABOUT EQUIFAX HACK – UPDATED
I posted this column the day after the Equifax hack became public knowledge to help you deal with the breach as it affects you. While the advice below remains accurate, I have become aware of some issues for you to consider when deciding if it is right for you.
Here are the three updates:
- If Equifax says they believe your personal information has not been impacted that is only a partial truth. What they mean is that they haven’t seen any suspicious activity from the time the hack was discovered (May) until they last checked (July.) this should not reassure you for two reasons. Misuse of your information may have happened before May and more significantly the people who stole your data may wait six months to a year to use it so the heat dies down.
- If you click the ACCEPT button you agree to waive your right to sue Equifax or join a Class Action Lawsuit. Although Equifax says this won’t apply in this case the contract language overrides any verbal statements. I am not making a recommendation here, only giving you the alternatives.
- Equifax wants more personal information. Are You comfortable giving it to them?
This hack is a big deal despite Equifax’s ridiculous claim that their core database was not breached. The crooks have your social security number, address, driver’s license, and birth day. They don’t need anything else. They can open new accounts in your name and if they change the address you might never know they did so.
I have followed Equifax’s instructions so I can let you know what to do to receive a free year of identity theft protection and credit file monitoring product, called TrustedID Premier. Please note that EVERY Equifax customer is eligible for this service even if Equifax doesn’t know if you were hacked.
First, go to the website www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. You will need your social security number. After you enter your last name and last six digits of your SSN hit continue. That will take you to another site for enrollment. You will the receive an enrollment date and you will be told to return to the site www.equifaxsecurity2017.com ON THAT DATE to continue your enrollment. For security purposes, you will be asked to re-enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. To enroll in TrustedID Premier, you will be asked to provide additional information to verify your identity. You also will need to provide a valid email address in order to complete the process. Within a few days, you will receive an email with a link to activate TrustedID Premier. Please be sure to check your spam and junk folders if you do not receive your activation email within that time frame.
As a word of warning the scammers will be on this like a dog on a bone. So please be very wary of any E-Mails, texts, or phone calls you get from “Equifax.” ALWAYS call their 800 number to check.
Here are some other things you can do to help protect yourself:
Credit Freeze / Fraud Alert
This is the most important thing you can do. It will prevent anyone from opening credit in your name. The drawback is this includes you but you can easily turn it off temporarily with a phone call and your personal pin. There is usually a $10 charge to set it up and to suspend it but Equifax may suspend it. Even if they don’t it will be the best $10 you’ve ever spent.
The three credit bureaus and their phone numbers are:
- Equifax 800-349-9960
- Experian 888-397-3742
- TransUnion 888-909-8872
Be Aware of Any Suspicious Activity on Your Accounts
These could be late payments on accounts you don’t have or changes to non-financial accounts.