Five Crucial Steps to Secure Your Identity
Follow these 5 simple steps to ensure that your identity stays secure in the wake of the recent Equifax data breach and into the future.
The recent Equifax security breach has been all over the news lately, and for good reason. Yes it’s annoying as hell, especially given some of the circumstances around how the event was handled internally at Equifax.
For the millions affected (including me), it raises the question, “What do I need to do?”
Well, here’s your to-do list:
1. Go to Equifax’s site to see if you’ve been affected by the security breach: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/
2. If you’ve been affected, go ahead and sign up for Equifax’s free monitoring offering. Note that Equifax is no longer requiring you release your right to be part of a class action lawsuit in order to use the service.
3. Unless you need new credit, file a credit freeze with all of the major credit monitoring services. Yes, it is a pain in the rear. Depending on the state where you live, it can cost a couple of bucks. Do it anyway. (South Carolina residents, you have no excuses – it seems that it's free for y’all. Let me know if that's not the case.) A credit freeze is less of a hassle and cheaper than having your identity stolen. If you need to apply for credit of any kind in the future, you’ll have to unfreeze (thaw?) things, but this is the world we now live in.
4. Go to www.optoutprescreen.com and opt out of any future pre-screened credit card and insurance policy offers to show up in your mailbox. Identity thieves will evidently steal these to open an account in your name and steal your identity. This is a service provided by all four of the major credit rating agencies.
5. If you haven’t recently, go to annualcreditreport.com, download your credit report from each of the agencies and check it for accuracy. The government requires each agency to make your credit report available for free at least annually.
Here and here are links to the best articles I’ve read so far on the Equifax breach. Take a look at these if you’re interested in a little more detail than the practical steps I’ve recommended.
Finally, watch out for any Equifax breach scams. There are stories out there of scammers calling folks posing as Equifax employees attempting to trick people into giving them their personal information (or their money)! If anyone contacts you about the Equifax breach, hang up on them!
That's it for now. If you have questions, please email, call or text.
All the best,