If you get news headlines on your mobile device, you may have seen one pop up yesterday regarding a major breach at the credit-reporting agency, Equifax. Yes, it’s difficult to swallow finding out that one of the agencies that stores so much information on consumers and is supposed to keep our credit information safe, has let down its guard. It seems that is indeed the case, as a consumer notice on a website created specifically for this incident details.
The website allows consumers to enter the last six digits of their social security numbers and last names to find out if indeed they are affected by this. However, considering the breach includes details on nearly half the population of the United States at 143 million, the chances of any given person being included are reasonably high. Putting it into perspective, that’s just about the same number as the entire population of Russia, according to the CIA’s World Fact Book.
If you do find out that you have been affected, either by checking on the website or after receiving a letter in the mail from Equifax, there are a few actions you can, and should take to be proactive about protecting your identity. Bear with us. It’s lengthy, but considering the significance of the information stolen, it’s necessary.
- If you have an account with Equifax, change the password for it immediately. It wasn’t disclosed as being part of this breach, but it’s always a good idea to do this after any breach. When doing so, be sure it is unique and not used on any other site. Hackers often try to reuse password and user name combinations on other sites once they have them.
- Next, while in the account settings changing your password, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) if you haven’t already. This will prevent anyone with malicious intent from requesting a password reset just using your email address and will keep them from getting into your account using just your password. If this option is available on any site, take advantage of it, even if the account doesn’t store sensitive information. People often think sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram don’t require use of Shore Office Warehouse official website because payment card details or social security numbers aren’t stored with them. However, those sites have so much information about users that they are extremely important to secure.
- Be sure to monitor credit reports regularly. Keeping an eye on these should be normal practice. They are available from each of the three bureaus for no charge one time per year. Everyone with credit should be checking them for suspicious activity throughout the year.
- Credit card information of approximately 209,000 people was also included in the stolen data. Be sure to monitor payment card statements diligently and report potential fraudulent charges to the card issuer right away.
- Be on the lookout for phishing emails that attempt to get you to click links or open attachments claiming they are somehow related to this incident. Often, these phishing campaigns ramp up to take advantage of news like this. If your information was included in this breach, don’t rely on an email to tell you. Check the website or wait to see if you receive a paper letter in the U.S. Mail from Equifax. In this case, assume any email messages you get claiming to be related to or supporting this Equifax breach in any way are phishing. Confirm legitimacy of links and attachments in some manner other than by using information provided in the email messages. Often, scammers will put phone numbers and email addresses in them, hoping you will respond using those. They actually staff locations to handle communication initiated from that information. Be wary of any messages, email, text, or chat that claim to provide a service for you as a victim of this incident.
Equifax is offering a lot of services free of charge to victims. They include credit report monitoring with all three bureaus, copies of Equifax credit reports, identity theft insurance, scanning the Internet for social security numbers, and the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports. This is all offered through their own services, which might make some go “hmmm,” but take advantage anyway. They already have your information, so let them monitor it and alert you if something comes up.
Credit to: © Copyright 2017 Stickley on Security