Millions of American’s social security numbers, bank accounts, credit cards, contact information and more were stolen as a result of the Equifax data breach/hack, and may now be available for use by cybercriminals. If you are worried about your personal and financial information there are a number of actions you can and should take now to provide significant protection to your identity and finances. While these actions will not solve all the potential problems, they will thwart a number of avenues for identity theft.
You can check if your information was stolen at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/ . Clicking on “Am I Impacted” will take you to the trustedidpremier.com website. This is a service that Equifax offers, currently free for 1 year. You can check to see if Equifax thinks your information was compromised without signing up for the service.
The reviews of the TrustedID Premier service provided by Equifax are very bad. It is probably better to protect your information with other services. Here are a few other services to consider:
Credit Freeze: An important action to take now is to put a Credit Freeze (aka Security Freeze) in place at all 3 credit agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion .It will cost $10 at each agency. This will prevent access to your credit information from most transactions. Tip: If you are applying for a new loan you will need to temporarily unlock your credit.
Fraud Alert: If you do not want to freeze your credit you can set up a Fraud Alert warning for 90 days (which can be extended after that). This notifies potential credit grantors to verify your information before extending credit in your name. Like the Credit Freeze, this also needs to be set up at all three agencies.
Closely monitor account activity. No matter what else you do, you should be vigilant and look at all of your financial accounts regularly, especially credit cards and bank accounts, to make sure there is no sign of fraudulent activity.
Check your credit report regularly. You can do this at all three credit agencies for free once a year. There are also free and paid services on some of them to allow ongoing access. Tip: When you look at your credit report, verify that the accounts listed for you are all valid accounts.
Activate 2 Factor Authentication for all financial accounts where it is available. “2 Factor” means that in addition to your password, there is another unique item of information needed from you to login. This is now typically done by sending you a text message code, or through a smartphone app used at the time of login. Most banks, credit cards and brokerages, including Schwab and Pershing/SSG, support 2 Factor Authentication for logging into investment accounts.
Consider a legitimate Credit and Identity Monitoring Service. Lifelock is one such legitimate service that can provide additional protection in addition to a Credit Freeze
Cybercrime continues to grow. Action should be taken now in order to protect your online identity and financial accounts. Even with protection services added, frequent ongoing attention to your accounts, balances and transactions is an important requirement for protecting your online identity and finances.