On September 7, 2017, Equifax announced a security breach that exposed individuals’ personal information, including names, addresses, and Social Security numbers for as many as 143,000,000 consumers. Equifax is a credit reporting agency and one of three main credit reporting agencies used by businesses to check an individual’s credit. The other two are Experian and TransUnion. In addition, Equifax also monitors consumers’ financial well-being and provides data to potential lenders without the consumer even knowing it.
The following are various items that individual consumers can do to determine whether or not their personal information has been breached and options to combat that potential breach:
1. Individuals can visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/ to see if their personal information has been breached. Those individuals who have been affected will have the ability to enroll in free ID theft protection and credit monitoring services.
2. Request a free credit report to determine if there are any unusual items on the report. A free report can be obtained annually.
3. A number of security experts have advised individuals to consider placing a security freeze on their credit files with Equifax and the other two reporting companies.
4. In addition, it may be a good idea to change passwords and other security credentials, and make sure that you are using different passwords for different accounts and websites. Experts recommend passwords use a combination of letters, symbols, and numbers.
5. Make sure that you choose your security questions carefully and try to make it difficult for someone to locate the potential security question answer elsewhere on the internet.
6. Even if you have not registered with Equifax, please check the above link to determine whether or not your personal information may have been breached at the recent security breach at Equifax.
7. Consider obtaining the services of a company that provides identity theft protection such as LifeLock.
8. Consider putting limits and notifications on credit cards and other financial accounts.
This is an unfortunate situation and consumers need to be vigilant in order to determine if they may have been affected by this breach and protect themselves against identity theft and unauthorized use of their personal information.
NOTE: This general summary of the law should not be used to solve individual problems since slight changes in the fact situation may require a material variance in the applicable legal advice.