How Can I Find Out If I Am Affected By The Equifax Data Breach
You may have heard that Equifax, one of the big three credit reporting agencies, was hacked. My office has no relationship to Equifax, but I wanted to be sure you know that they’ve disclosed that about 143 million people’s names, Social Security Numbers, credit card information, and more were stolen. Unlike hacks of retailer information (ie: Target hack a few years ago), this breach has the potential to expose people far more seriously to threats of identity theft going forward. If you're concerned about this, Equifax has provided a search tool that you can use to see if you may have been affected by the hack. If Equifax believes that you may have been affected, they are providing an identity theft protection program at no cost to the potential victims. Personally, I'm on the list of those that may have been affected and I will be signing up for the identity theft protection when my appointment date comes up. You can visit the website in the link below and click on the Enroll button at the bottom of the page. At that point, you can start step 1, which brings up the search tool and you’ll go from there. Upon completing the basic information on this page, I was informed that my information was likely compromised.
I should mention that I'm aware that Equifax tried to see about limiting its own liability for people entering into their program. I personally don't feel any class action lawsuit is likely to be of much benefit to the victims - only lawyers win in a class action - and so I'm not concerned about anything other than protecting myself against identity theft.
The search tool can be found here: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. More importantly, if you determine your information was likely exposed, you may want to consider what I'm working on now. Namely getting a credit freeze in place. You can learn more about how a credit freeze works at the Federal Trade Commission's website and how to do it here if you're interested.
You can simply google the names of the credit agency (Equifax, Transunion or Experian) and include the words "credit freeze" if you want to see about this option which is safer than credit monitoring offered by these institutions. There are some minor fees that apply, but I think it'll be worth the peace of mind for many of you.
Normally, I don't spend too much time worrying about "hacks" of various institutions, but this one seems serious enough that I'm recommending my clients at least consider evaluating their personal situation closely to see whether some additional protection might be necessary.