If you’ve been immobilized about taking action related to the mammoth Equifax data breach, you’re not alone – many people have been. The sheer enormity and scope of the breach – 143 million records in the US alone – left many feeling hopeless. There have been big breaches before so it is easy to become numb to the significance, but this is a truly alarming incident that merits a response. Equifax, as one of the nation’s big three credit reporting bureaus, has access to your most sensitive personal data, including your birth date, Social Security number, driver’s license, address, account history and more.
We’ve gathered the best consumer advice we’ve found from trusted sources on what you can do to protect yourself.
First up: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has compiled an excellent summary page: The Equifax Data Breach: What to Do. It explains more about the breach and the steps that you should take to protect yourself. FTC also points to a very useful site from IdentityTheft.gov related to what you should to when your information is lost or exposed. In a simple drop down menu, they guide you through the steps you should take for various types of exposure, including information about specific breaches. You can see more about these services in this video clip:
Next up: This brief video from AARP is also quite good. Here’s the accompanying article: How to Protect Your Personal Data From Hackers.
Finally, more excellent advice on actions consumers should take comes from Trend Micro, the digital security firm. Their Simply Security blog features a post on The Equifax Data Breach: What Do I Do Next? At the end f the post, they offer a bulleted list of action stops.
Key links you need:
- Equifax – check your exposure
- TrustedID Premier credit monitoring from Equifax
- The other major credit bureaus are TransUnion and Experian
- Get a free credit report annually from all three agencies at annualcreditreport.com Note that this is the only federally authorized service for free credit reports.