Equifax is one of the nation’s three credit reporting agencies. These companies pull together your credit information from banks, credit card companies, and service providers to create your credit report.

Adam Levin from CyberScout told AL.com “On a scale of 1 to 10, this is a 10, and that’s because of the quality of the data … your Social Security number is the skeleton key for your identity.”

What is the breach?

From May to July, Equifax was hacked and in September the company made the announcement of the breach. So what does that mean for you? This means that if you have a credit report or have ever looked into your credit score, you are affected by the recent hacking of Equifax.

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s website “The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.” They were also able to access credit card numbers and other personal information for customers. People who were affected also include people in both the UK and Canada.

If you want to take the steps to protect yourself the first questions you are asking yourself is if you were one of the affected. Equifax has set up a website www.equifaxsecurity2017.com where you can go and find out if you should take action. You will have to enter your last name and the last 6 digits of your Social Security number. You can also call 866-447-7559 to get information on the breach.

Here are some other steps you can take:

  • You can enroll in a free credit monitoring service for a year, even if you were not affected by this hack. You just have to enroll before November 21, 2017 with Equifax. Experian and TransUnion also have credit monitoring programs.
  • Check your credit report at Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. You are entitled to a free credit report annual if you go to annualcreditreport.com. Keep your report in a safe place so you know exactly where you were right after the Equifax breach.
  • You can also order a credit freeze. This will make it much harder for someone to open any new accounts in your name, but you cannot do this if you are planning on getting a loan soon. A credit freeze usually requires a fee and only lasts a year and will have to be reactivated again to continue this beyond that year.
  • Keep a close eye on all your accounts and be vigilant. If you see a change that you did not authorize, report it immediately to your bank or credit card company. The sooner you catch it the easier it will be to correct the fraud or theft.
  • If you cannot get a credit freeze, you can place a fraud alert on your accounts. This will put an alert on your accounts and will notify creditors when that you may be a victim of identity theft and they will need to verify that it is you seeking credit and not someone else.
  • File your taxes early this year. As soon as you get all your tax information in, get it done. The more you put off your taxes, the more of a chance tax identity thieves to take advantage of you. Pay attention to mail you receive or are waiting to receive from the IRS. If you have a CPA, you may want to discuss anything that looks off with your tax information.
  • AL.com also suggest contacting your life insurance company and your property insurance company. Some companies offer identity theft protection insurance.
  • Check your exposure. To see whether the Equifax breach affected you, go to trustedidpremier.com/eligibility/eligibility.html

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