Everyone should be very concerned about the Equifax data breach from last July - which was only disclosed by Equifax in September. Data security experts believe that the thieves are poised and ready to unleash havoc on the over 145.5 million Americans whose data was hacked. They are expected to lay low for a while, but when they strike, it will devastate millions upon millions of Americans, perhaps in one, two or three felled swoops.
Just because nothing has happened yet, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. This is a problem we will be dealing with for the rest of our lives. Remember, they have your social security number, your date of birth, address and certain passwords amongst other things. With that information, it would be easy for criminals to steal your identity, take out credit in your name, and leave you with the bill when they disappear.
Experts say that there are two things you can do to best help protect yourselves from this thievery.
1- FREEZE YOUR CREDIT. This prevents anyone, other than you, from having access to your credit file and information. NYS Consumer protection has put out a brochure on credit freezing. Go to SECURITY FREEZE LAW for information on how and why you should freeze your credit.
The latest statistic shows that only about 3% of the 145.5 million Americans, that were part of the breach, had their credit frozen. When “it goes down” they will be fine. The rest of us??? Don’t be one of those people that will say, “I was warned and I didn’t do anything about it”. You will be so sorry if you didn’t - and so glad if you did.
2- Register with a free credit monitoring service, like www.creditkarma.com. This way you will know, immediately, if anyone is attempting to breach and use your credit file. Many credit card issuers have built-in credit usage alerts; most have them conveniently on their apps. Check and see if your credit cards have it - and set it up and use it!