Over the past few days, I’ve received several e-mails and phone calls from my physician clients asking me what to do about the Equifax data breach.
So, I thought it was important to quickly explain what the Equifax data breach means, and what to do if you think your information might be compromised.
What is the Equifax Data Breach?
Equifax is one of the three main credit bureaus. This means that they have your name, social security number, birthday, addresses, license number, and more.
Whenever you want to check your credit report, Equifax is one of the places you go to see it. So, needless to say, they have a lot of information about you.
Last week, it was announced that hackers broke in to the Equifax database, which affected 143 million Americans. To see if you were among those affected, you can click here.
What Should I Do If I’m Affected?
There are a few things you should do if you think your information was compromised.
- Enroll in Trusted ID: TrustedID is a credit monitoring service that Equifax will enroll you in for free. You can enroll and learn more here.
- Pull your credit report. You are eligible to get one free credit report each year from all three credit bureaus. You can go to AnnualCreditReport.com, fill in your information, and download your credit report in a few minutes. I recommend getting a credit report for all three just to make sure.
- Read it carefully. Once you get your credit report, read through it very carefully. Make sure all accounts on there are yours. Make sure all of your information is correct. If you see anything that’s wrong, contact the credit bureau immediately and then freeze your account.
- Freeze your account. Some are saying that freezing your account is optional, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. When you freeze your account, you’ll get a pin number to unfreeze if when you need to use it for a loan application or something else. Otherwise, no one can access your account or open new accounts without that pin number. You can actually call the three credit bureaus and do this using their automated system. Learn more about credit freezes here.
Other Important Tips
- Before you pay for extended fraud alert services (the first 90 day initial fraud alert is free), check with your employer to see if identity theft help is part of your benefits package. If it’s not, see if your employer is offering a discount on identity theft protection.
- Keep an eye on your credit report through a free service like Credit Karma. This is what I use personally, and it’s easy because you can dispute items on your credit report right through the Credit Karma website.
- Don’t forget about your spouse and kids. Sometimes, children’s social security numbers are more vulnerable when there is a major security breach like this one because many people forget to freeze their children’s credit files.
Ultimately, I hope this information helps, and if you have any other questions, feel free to give me a call.