Equifax Breach - What You Need to Know

 September 14 2017     Anna Pfaehler
On September 11, Equifax made known that personal data of nearly half of the U.S. population was compromised this summer. The data breach gave thieves access to the identities (names, Social Security Numbers, addresses and dates of birth) of approximately 143 million Americans. Those affected are at increased risk for identity theft and fraud. 

You can check if you are potentially impacted here:

We strongly recommend that you freeze your credit if you are affected. Even if you are not affected by the Equifax breach, freezing your credit is a best practice for preventing fraudulent applications for credit. 

Freezing your credit restricts access to your credit report. Potential lenders will not be able to access your report and therefore will not offer someone credit on your record. It does not affect your open lines of credit and it does not affect your credit score. You will still be able to access your own credit report for monitoring. 

Should you need to permit access for a legitimate credit application or other use of your credit report, you will need to "thaw" your credit with the appropriate bureau. This can be done using a PIN, which is either provided to you or chosen by you during the freezing process. The "thaw" is not instant and is typically processed in 24-72 hours. Therefore applications for credit will take more time and forethought than previously. 

You can freeze your credit with each of the major credit bureaus online using the following links. You will need to enter your personal information to do so. The process is generally easy and takes only a few minutes. Depending on the bureau and your state of residence, there may be a small fee ($5 - $10) for freezing your credit report. Equifax is currently waving fees for credit freezes. 

Note that this is only the first step in fraud prevention. You will also need to monitor your current accounts for any suspicious activity. Additionally, you should be on alert come tax time as identity thieves have been known to file fraudulent tax returns. You may also consider utilizing an identity monitoring service. 

If you have any questions about freezing your credit or the Equifax breach, please do not hesitate to contact us.