By now, you’ve likely heard about the massive Equifax breach. 143 million people had their personal information exposed last Thursday leaving many scrambling to protect their identity. That’s 44% of the population.
The likelihood of your information being exposed is very high. If you have not placed a security freeze on your credit file, it’s something that you may want to consider. A credit freeze, or security freeze, is a tool that lets you restrict access to your credit report. This makes it difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.
If you are interested in placing a security freeze you may do so by contacting the following four bureaus:
Many are waiting to receive more information on the breach, but here are a few things to consider about the hack.
Think you’re safe, check again
Equifax has responded to the concerns of the breach with a website where concerned Americans could go to find out whether they were impacted by this breach, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. Unfortunately, the site is completely broken at best, or perhaps a bit of a stalling tactic at worst.
As an example, many who checked the site initially were told their information was safe only to find they received a different answer when they checked the site with the same information on their mobile phones. Some even received responses saying the information was not available and to check back later in the month.
Given the misinformation, many have been encouraged to not rely on the information provided by the site and to take action on protecting your identity.
Be aware lawsuits have been filed
The breach has already led to over 30 lawsuits being filed. Of those filed, one is seeking $70 billion in damages. The breach occurred in May and in the alert issued last Thursday, Equifax said that it discovered the breach back on July 29th. They managed to leave much of the public in the dark about their exposure, how they should protect themselves and what Equifax planned to do for those affected. They are offering a credit monitoring service free for one year, Trusted ID, but sources suggest thinking twice before accepting the credit bureau’s help. Those who signed up to this TrustedID Premier security monitoring service for a year appeared to waive their rights to participate in a class-action lawsuit. Some consumers quickly detected these conditions included in the terms of Equifax’s service.
Risk as tax season approaches
If hackers have gained access to your personal information they may be able to file taxes in your name. The Federal Trade Commission warned consumers last Friday to file their taxes early — “as soon as you have the tax information you need, before a scammer can.” Tax identity theft is a rising problem and in the light of the breach with Equifax it’s a huge concern. Keep this in mind as we get closer to the 2018 tax season.
Unfortunately, modern technology has heavily increased the risk of identity theft. If you have not taken the steps to protect yourself and your clients, act today.