Let me start this blog post by saying that there is a wealth of information on the internet about the Equinox hack and I would highly recommend doing additional research before making any decisions about your credit or about the next steps you will take. This is unfortunately a scary realty that is a brand new challenge to tackle. I have done research on the subject matter but again, this is such new territory that there is much more I can learn, and so can you. I have decided to compile some important information and some steps that you can take in order to secure and protect your credit a but more.
So let’s rewind a little bit. Equinox is one of the three major credit reporting agencies. The other two are TransUnion and Experian. Earlier this year, Equinox got hacked, and the private information of 143 million Americans was compromised. Crazy right? But it’s not just enough to read about it or to be aware of what is going on with your information, it is crucial that we take steps to protect our credit and that for the coming years we are diligently watching and monitoring our credit. As annoying as this might sound, it just needs to become part of your routine. There are various ways that we can do this and that is what I will be sharing tonight. I mean your credit affects everything! Our information is crucial in this day and age and it is your responsibility to make sure that nothing happens with your sensitive information in the future.
One of the first things one can do to add another layer of security is to put a credit freeze, also known as a security freeze. One a freeze is in place it restricts access to your credit reports which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open a new account in your name. There are certain concerns that people have about credit freeze’s and with reason. These things can be daunting and intimidating. But a credit freeze will not affect your credit score, it does not prevent you from getting you annual credit report, keep you from applying from a new job, opening a new account renting an apartment or buying insurance. What it does is that when you put a freeze in place, you will be given a pin, so whenever you want to do any of the above mentioned things, you would have to use that pin to lift the freeze temporally. A credit freeze also won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your already existing account which again, I urge you to monitor your bank and credit card statements.
The way to do a freeze is to contact each of the nationwide credit reporting companies:
– Equifax – 1 (800) 349 – 9960
– Experian – 1 (888) 397 – 3742
– TransUnion – 1 (888) 909 – 8872
You will need to supply your name, address, date of birth and Social Security number and might be charged anywhere from $5 – $10 depending on where you live. In California it is $10. And at the end of you call, you will receive your PIN and all will send you a hard copy of your pin to your address.
Now, I have heard many people complain, “Well if Equinox had the hack, why do I need to give them my information again?!” And that’s a valid question and concern but as of now this is the only way to get a freeze and as the saying goes, it is what it is. But this should motivate you even more to be monitoring and watching your accounts. I would also recommend putting a fraud alert on your credit. Which is one more means to add a layer of protection if someone would like to open a new account but again, does not protect against existing credit. Credit monitoring is also an option and there are services that can monitor at a price but rumor has it that Equinox, through the pressure of the public, has offered free credit monitoring because of everything that has occurred.
Again, let me remind you all that there are countless of articles and videos online that go even further into this hectic situation. I recommend educating yourself but also being proactive and taking steps to protect you, your family, and your property.