From mid-May through July, hackers broke into Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies, and accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for over 200,000 people. The following information has been provided by Greene, Dycus & Company, CPA’s on how you can protect yourself from the repercussions of this breach if you were one of the American consumers affected.
How to Protect Yourself from the Equifax Data Breach
The massive Equifax breach means consumers need to be on guard against data thieves. The credit-rating company hack earlier this year left approximately 143 million people’s personal information exposed and vulnerable. Here are the steps you take to help protect yourself in the wake of this event.
1) Determine the exposure of your information: Go to Equifax''s website here and follow the instructions provided. You’ll need your Social Security number handy to complete the check and to tell if you''ve been impacted by the breach.
2) Enroll for free credit monitoring: Regardless of exposure, consumers who have information under Equifax are entitled to free credit monitoring for one year, along with other monitoring and protective services. You can learn more about what is available here.
3) Monitor your credit reports and accounts for unusual activity: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the three major credit reporting companies, are required to supply you with a credit report free of charge once every 12 months. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and request them. Once you have the reports, monitor them to ensure there are no unauthorized accounts, incorrect personal information or credit inquiries you didn’t initiate. These are signs of fraud and you should follow up on them to ensure you weren’t the victim of identity theft.
4) Consider implementing a credit freeze: If you see suspicious activity or are highly concerned, you can place a credit freeze to help deter an identity thief from opening new accounts in your name. Visit the consumer information section of the Federal Trade Commission website to learn more about credit freezes and how to activate one.
5) Set up fraud alerts: Fraud alerts require potential creditors to verify your identity before they can open an account, issue a new card or increase a credit limit. Remember that fraud alerts won’t necessarily prevent identity theft, but they will make it much harder for someone with your personal information to use it.
Greene, Dycus & Co, PA, Certified Public Accountants, is a local firm established in Sanford, Florida in 1953. We are a full service accounting firm committed to providing our clients prompt, reliable and efficient solutions to their accounting, auditing and tax concerns. We are dedicated to client service, with individual attention and maintaining the highest accounting and ethical standards in the accounting profession. Have questions? We are here to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 407.322.0567 or visit us in person at 205 N. Elm Avenue, Sanford, FL 32771.
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