May 20, 2018

How to know if you were affected by the Equifax breach

14 September 2017, 12:31 | Kenneth Drake

The Best Shield For Protecting Your Identity? Try Adopting 4 New Habits

Credit cards a chain and an open padlock is seen in front of displayed Equifax logo in this illustration

At this point, it might be inevitable. These are services that will let you know when someone is looking at your credit and may contact you about a new account opened in your name.

"This is a goldmine of information for a thief", said Chi Chi Wu, an attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. Approximately 209,000 individuals also had their credit card numbers stolen. The only people who wouldn't want to freeze their credit files are those who are activity pursuing a vehicle loan or mortgage or who plan to apply for a new credit card within days. And, most interestingly, instead of randomly generated PINs, early PIN codes appeared to be simply the date and time you applied for a PIN. EFX exposed sensitive financial information of roughly half of the entire population of the United States. Call the credit card company or bank immediately about any charges you do not recognize.

First of all, don't panic.

Additionally, consider freezing your credit report so companies you already do business with are the only ones who have access.

Hackers got away with names, birthdays, social security numbers, credit card information, and license numbers.

It could be a long, messy process.

Visit for a guide on securing your credit and personal information.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island is among a bipartisan group calling for a federal probe of the credit agency Equifax. This will prevent anyone from opening additional new accounts in your name. As Lifehacker's Kristin Wong points out, however, a freeze can not stop a thief from charging an existing line of credit.

We're getting reports that Equifax's security freeze website isn't able to process freezes during this time when so many Americans are anxious about identity theft.

Taking action after a breach like this can be crucial in protecting your identity.

The agencies advise you to plan ahead and lift a freeze a few days before actually applying for new credit. Include a copy of your identity theft report.

A credit freeze limits who can see your credit report information.

It can also put a crimp in those spur-of-the-moment store credit offers where you get a percentage off your purchase for signing up on the spot. And even if you were able to prove that data leaked from Equifax caused you harm, you'd then have to make a case for how much money you should be awarded as a result. But you have no control over that account.

But even that doesn't totally protect your information since your data isn't fully frozen until it is on ice at all three credit bureaus.

There are companies that you can contract with that will monitor your credit activity (reports, etc.) on your behalf and notify you if there is any suspicious activity.

Once you've cleared up the situation, remain vigilant.

To protect your legal rights, you will need to "dispute" the error by sending a dispute in writing to the three reporting agencies (not just to the lender/creditor).

Keep a close eye on all your statements.

Credit monitoring and fraud protection are also good ideas because in addition to all of your personal information, Equifax also failed to protect your credit card information.

"On a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of risk to consumers, this is a 10", said Avivah Litan, a fraud analyst at Gartner, according to The New York Times.

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