The recent Equifax breach has many American consumers concerned about what information has been compromised – and how that information may get used. It is known that hackers likely accessed data that can be easily used to open fraudulent accounts, including:
- Birth dates
- Social Security numbers
- Addresses (past and current)
- Driver License numbers
- Credit card numbers
If you’re not sure whether you are one of the estimated 143 million people affected, obtain a copy of your credit report. Right now, this document is your first line of defense regarding identity theft. Monitoring your report regularly will let you know if there is any suspicious activity.
However, it can take time for fraudulent activity to be reflected in your report. It’s a good idea to protect yourself in other ways to prevent further impacts. Take these steps to make sure your finances and credit aren’t affected by the recent breach.
Freeze Your Credit Report
Your credit report is being accessed even when you don’t know it. Freezing it will require a pin number for access your report will require a pin number. If you aren’t using credit for large purchases right now, consider freezing the report so that no new line of credit can be added. It will remove the burden of constantly checking your report.
However, freezing your credit is a time-intensive process. You’ll need to contact each credit bureau individually, and you may even need to pay a small fee.
Place A Fraud Alert
For a less-intensive way of monitoring your credit report, set-up a fraud alert with each bureau. This will give you 90 days of monitored protection. If somebody tries to open an account in your name, it will require additional identity verification. You will know about it, then be able to target and resolve it far faster than if you hadn’t notified the credit bureaus.
Monitor Your Statements
It is not entirely clear what data was taken so it’s a good idea to start monitoring both your bank and credit card statements in case either were compromised. Set up alerts on your accounts to let you know if there is any suspicious or unauthorized activity.
Your credit security is not something to take lightly. It’s important to enable protection in case your data was compromised.