4 Steps to Protect Yourself from the Equifax Data Breach
The Equifax breach has been a hot topic in the news lately. Equifax, one of the three credit reporting agencies, had a massive data breach which leaked millions of customers private financial information. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the “hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.”
This is serious business. Our personal financial data, which we regard as sacred, has potentially now been exposed for other’s gain.
I was one of the one’s affected by the breach. At first, I felt like a victim and I let fear take over. I reverted to my down trodden go-to emotion – I froze. I stood still and did nothing at first. I did nothing not just because I was afraid but also because I didn’t know what to do. After I pulled myself together mentally, I realized I needed to jump into the next steps of the Equifax breach. I realized I not only had been affected by the breach but I also had derogatory items on my credit report that were not mine. By this experience, I now know how to handle the Equifax breach and how to fix the discrepancies. Below are the four steps to protect yourself from the effects of the Equifax breach.
Step 1: Equifax breach check
Were you affected by the Equifax breach? You can check by visiting their website, https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/. Click on the button, “Am I Impacted”, and follow the instructions.
Step 2: Impacted?
If you were impacted by the results in Step 1, you will be eligible to receive one year of credit monitoring provided by Equifax. You can enroll in their program by visiting their webpage at, https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/. Choose “Yes, Enroll Now” for the credit monitoring service provided by Trusted ID Premier.
Step 3: Credit report review
After you enroll with Trusted ID Premier, you will be given access to your Equifax credit report. You will want to make sure the balances are correct and review any derogatory items.
Step 4: Dispute
If there are incorrect items on your credit report, you will need to dispute them. Incorrect items can result in a lower credit score and you want to make sure you get these corrected as soon as possible. Disputes are done at a separate website from the breach and this can be done by visiting Equifax’s website, https://www.equifax.com/personal/disputes. Follow the instructions and allow 30 days for the results of the dispute.
Keep in mind the above steps only apply to the Equifax credit reporting agency and does not apply to the other two credit agencies, Experian and TransUnion. Whether or not you were affected by the breach, I recommend you get a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The credit reports are free once every 12 months; however, they are free anytime if you are suspect fraudulent activity. A copy of your credit report is available at the website, https://www.annualcreditreport.com/requestReport/landingPage.action.
The big take away is to feel empowered to take the next steps to protect your financial future. While you have no control over what others do or don’t do, such as Experian not protecting your data; you do have control on how you handle the situation. Take control and keep moving forward.
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” – Epictetus