Equifax Data Breach :: What You Can Do

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On September 8, 2017 Equifax, one of the three largest credit bureaus, reported that in May-July of this year hackers had breached as many as 143 million Americans.  This one is of particular concern because of the type of data that was likely obtained—social security numbers, full names, addresses, driver’s license numbers, etc.  So what can you do to protect yourself and your family?

Monitor your credit report

The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to see your credit report from the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian).  You can obtain your free credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com.  Here’s how to yearly monitor your credit report without paying for additional reports.

  1. Go to annualcreditreport.com and fill in the correct information, selecting 1 of the 3 credit bureaus.
  2. Review your information. Any errors need to be fixed via snail mail.  If you see any errors the credit bureau you select will now fix those problems and will report the problems to the other two bureaus.
  3. Repeat every 4 months choosing a different credit bureau.

Purchase credit monitoring services

Consider purchasing credit monitoring services.  Experian is offering free credit monitoring services in the wake of the data breach.  In my personal opinion, tread lightly and make sure you read all of the fine print.  You may be giving up legal rights if your identity was stolen during this data breach. 

Consider freezing your credit

A more permanent, and in my opinion, a method that would let me sleep soundly at night would be to freeze your credit.  For a small fee, $5-10, this will actually restrict access to your credit.  This is a good idea especially if you are not needing access to your credit (opening a credit card, financing a car, buying a home, etc.). Your credit will remain frozen until you actively unfreeze it.  So if you need to buy a car you can unfreeze it and then re-freeze your credit after.  Even with the small charges each time you freeze/unfreeze your credit it will still probably be less compared to the monthly fees a credit monitoring system charges.

Practice diligence and safety with your personal information

This data breach is also a good reminder to practice diligence and protect what information you put on the internet. 

  • Be careful about what you post to social media.
  • Double check that your online purchase is from a secured host.
  • Do not give out your social security number or credit card number over the phone.
  • Regularly check your credit score and report.
  • Be leery about clicking on links in emails. Hackers have gotten really good at making emails look legit!

And most importantly,

  • In general, if it seems too good to be true…it probably is.

 

You cannot be too safe with your identity and money. Protect yourself and your family by protecting your finances. 

 

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Jamie
Hi I’m Jamie. I’m originally from Aurora, CO. I moved to Nebraska to attend Hastings College to where I ran into my husband while running on the Track Team. I have my Ph.D in Economics and work at the University of Nebraska at Omaha as an Assistant Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Economic Education. As a professor I teach economics to college students and research economic education and financial literacy education. As the Director of the Center for Economic Education I get to work with the Omaha and surrounding area K-12 teachers and teach them how to teach economics and personal finance in a fun and engaging way. Economics has a bad rep and I’m here to change that! We have two kids--my daughter Vella is 3 1/2 and my son Brook is 9 months old! I have a fur baby puggle named Rodgers (the Wagners are cheeseheads). We are a family that loves the outdoors and being active!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the tips! I really only checked my credit once a year. Good to know I should be checking more frequently!

  2. Jaacqueline, by law you are allowed 1 free credit report from EACH credit bureau so if you spread those out you can continuously monitor your credit report. Also if there is a mistake that you report on one credit report that company has to share with the other two so it’s like BOGO! 🙂 Good for you for being someone that checks their report once a year–that’s more than many!

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