The Equifax Check In
I know that a while ago, I wrote about the Equifax hack and some simple steps to freeze your credit. However, today, a friend of mine called me to tell me that Equifax had sent them an email that someone had attempted to take out a new credit card under their name and if they would approve and respond with the pin the had received when they froze their accounts. My friend continued and told me that if they had not frozen their accounts, that the person would have been able to take out a new credit card without the authorization pin.
So, i understand that that might be a lot. Let me back up and rewind.
As a refresher course, earlier this year, Equifax announced that they had been hacked. Equifax is one of the three major credit reporting agencies was hacked from May 13 to July 30 of 2017. In that time, the hackers were able to get the personal information of 143 million American consumers. Personal information being: names, address, and social security numbers, basically all the information necessary to take out a loan or a credit card.
Experts say that if you have a credit report, there is a good chance, a 50% or more chance that your information was stolen. This blog post is to remind people of the very real situation that this continues to be. A reason why expert think that Americans know of this situation but take no action is that there is not sense of immediate risk or threat. However, they are urging Americans to take action and informing us that this now is simple something that we must be constantly monitoring.
Though I mentioned some of these steps before, I truly feel like it is important for me to remind you especially after the situation that arose with a close friend of mine. Some step;s to help you protect yourself after this breach are:
- Place a credit freeze on your files.
- When you place a credit freeze on your files, it makes it a more difficult process for someone to open a new account in your name. When you place a freeze you are given a pin that you must not lose because that is the only way to unfreeze your credit if you need to take out a new loan or credit card. This is what my friend did, he placed a freeze on his credit so when someone tried to open a new credit card under his name, he received a letter asking for the pin to authorize the new card and since he realized that was not him, the card was not opened because he did not give them the authorization pin. It is also important to remember that it can’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing account which is why you need to be monitoring your card activity.
- Check your credit reports.
- There are various ways to check and see your credit repot. Make sure to research which method is best for you. I would recommend visiting IdentifityTheft.gov to find out what the next steps are.
- Monitor your existing credit cards and bank accounts.
- This one is easy. Just make it a habit to check in every couple of days, make sure everything looks right and nothing is suspicious or questionable.
- Look into placing a fraud alert on your files.
- I have read mixed reviews on this. I have read that some people thing that freezing your account is enough and others think that adding a fraud alert is essential as well though I have heard of some problematic issues with a fraud alert as well. The key here is that unfortunately a lot of research needs to be done which is unfortunate and not our faults but just something that has fallen into our laps.
- File your taxes early.
- This one is to prevent that no one else can claim your dependents or do anything of that nature when it comes to your taxes. It would be best to file them, get them done, and not have to worry about that possibility.
Overall, a consistent theme that I have been seeing is that freezing is the most essential and crucial step that you can take right now. It’s never too soon. Unfortunately since there are only three major credit agencies, you will have to call Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. You will have to provide them with some personal information which I totally understand is incredibly frustration considering one of the three agencies is why I am freezing my accounts to begin with, but unfortunately this is the only way to freeze your accounts. The numbers you can call are:
TransUnion: 1(888) 909-8872
Equifax: 1(800) 349-9960
Experian: 1(888) 397-3742
Some of you might read this and might have heard abut this and thought, well if there is a 50/50 chance they have my information, there is a 50/50 chance that they don’t and might brush this off. But this is serious. Think of all of your assets, think of all of the assets you will buy in the future! Is this a gamble you a really willing to take? If anything, I have been urging my friends to simply educate themselves and to read more about what happened with the Equifax hack and what the financial experts are saying. Educate yourself, be informed, and take action.