September 29, 2017
The credit reporting company Equifax was breached by hackers. The breach lasted from May 2017 to July 2017. The breach exposed the information of over 140 million Americans. The hackers gained access to names, Social Security numbers, birth certificates, addresses, driver's licenses numbers and credit card numbers.
To find out if your information was exposed visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. Click on the "Potential Impact" tab. You will be asked to provide your last name and the last 6 digits of your Social Security number. If you are one of the unlucky you will receive the message, "Thank you. Based on the information provided, we believe that your personal information may have been impacted by this incident." You will then be allowed to enroll in a free credit monitoring by Equifax.
The Federal Trade Commission recommends “impacted” individuals take these additional steps.
- Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for free — by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
- Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze will not prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts. You must contact each of the three credit reporting agencies and ask for a credit freeze. You'll need to supply your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information. Fees vary based on where you live, but commonly range from $5 to $10.
Equifax — 1-800-349-9960
Experian — 1 888 397 3742
TransUnion — 1-888-909-8872
After receiving your freeze request, each credit reporting company will send you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN (personal identification number) or password. Keep the PIN or password in a safe place. You will need it if you choose to lift the freeze.
- Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize.
- If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you. You must to contact one individual credit reporting company and confirm that they will contact the other two. Fraud alerts are free but only last for 90 days. At the end of 90 days you should make the request again.
- File your taxes early — as soon as you have the tax information you need, before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.
Equifax has dedicated a telephone line to answer questions.
866-447-7559 Available every day (including weekends)
7:00 a.m. — 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time