Protecting Your Identity After the Equifax Data Breach
If you are one of the 143 million people affected by the Equifax data breach and had your personal information compromised, there are steps that you can take to protect your identity. To check if you were impacted by the security breach, you can go to http://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/ to see if your identity has been compromised.
What steps can I take to protect my identity?
Monitoring your credit is one of the best defenses in keeping your personal identity safe. You can subscribe to a credit monitoring services for a small monthly fee and they will inform you of any suspicious activities. These credit monitoring services will alert you when there is a new credit inquiry, new line of credit or other significant changes to your profile. Additionally, you can purchase advanced monitoring, such as identity theft protection services.
When receiving your credit reports, make sure to read through all of the information carefully. Look for anything that seems incorrect or unusual. While looking for over your credit report, look for accounts that you did not set up, incorrect personal information or inquiries from creditors that you did not approve or initiate.
My identity was compromised. What steps should I be taking?
Equifax is offering free identity theft protection and credit file monitoring for 12 months. Click http://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/ and follow the prompted directions.
You can also place a fraud alert on your credit files. This can be done by contacting one of these three national consumer reporting agencies;
Equifax : Call 888-766-0008 or visit equifax.com
Experian: Call 888-397-3742 or visit experian.com
TransUnion: Call 800-680-7289 or visit transunion.com
When a fraud alert is activated, it will last for 90 days, which can be renewed. Your credit reports can still be accessed by a third party, but additional steps will need to be taken to verify their identity. A fraud alert can be extended for seven years, but first, an identity theft report must be filed with law enforcement and the three national consumer reporting agencies must be contacted.
You can also issue a credit freeze on your accounts, if you believe your identity was compromised. If you wish to freeze your credit, it must be done with each of the national consumer reporting agencies. When your credit is frozen, the agencies are not allowed to release any information about your credit without contacting you for authorization. Please keep in mind, placing a credit freeze may cause delays when opening a new line of credit or account.
The best way to mitigate risk associated with identity theft is to frequently monitor your credit report.
Tax Season Impact
This data breach also exposes millions of people to potential tax identity fraud. Tax identity fraud occurs when a scammer uses your personal information to obtain a fraudulent tax refund in your name. The Federal Trade Commission has recommended that anyone affected by the data breach file their tax returns “as soon as you have the information you need, before a scammer can”. They also remind taxpayers that the IRS will not contact you by phone, email, text message, or social media to request information. The IRS does however mail letters to taxpayers and these letters should be responded to right away.
The IRS is currently assessing the potential impact of the Equifax data breach and may determine the need to take additional steps prior to the upcoming tax season.