Equifax announced Thursday that it was the victim of a large scale hack that exposed the personal information, including SS#s, of an estimated 143 million Americans.
Hackers gained access to names, SS#s, birth dates, addresses and some driver’s license numbers.
This information is at risk of identity fraud or being sold on the black market to get credit cards, take out loans and make purchases. Since your SS# doesn’t change, it holds its value on the black market for a long time.
Equifax, as well as many news sites, have provided the below steps to take to determine if your information has been affected.
To find out if you’ve been affected, you can check a website Equifax has set up: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.
At the bottom of the page, the company directs you to a link titled, “Potential Impact,” which allows you to see if your information is safe. However, you have to provide your last name and the last six digits of your SS#.
After entering the information, you’ll get one of two messages: One confirms that the user was not affected by the breach and the second says you may have been affected. Both provide a link to the enroll in the company’s credit-monitoring service, TrustedID Premier. It is unclear to us if TrustedID Premier is mandatory or whether there is or will be a charge for this service.
Signing up for Equifax’s TrustedID Premier credit monitoring service has some conditions, however. One: you could be giving up the ability to sue Equifax individually or via a class action, thanks to fine print that requires arbitration vs. legal proceeding. You may wish to contact your own attorney before taking this step. Bridgeworth does not offer tax or legal advice.
In the meantime, you may take other steps to help protect your credit information by:
- Freeze your credit
This restricts who can see your credit report, preventing lenders and others from accessing your information. To do this call each of the three major credit monitoring bureaus: Experian (888-397-3742), TransUnion (888-909-8872) and Equifax (800-349-9960).
- Activate a free 90 day fraud alert with one or all three credit bureaus.
- Check your credit report.
While Equifax announced the breach Thursday, they discovered it on July 29. You may check your credit report using a verified credit report company to see if any accounts have been opened under your name without your permission.
Bridgeworth, LLC is a registered investment advisory firm.