Over 143 million Americans had their addresses, Social Security numbers, and more information exposed in a major breach of Equifax’s systems. What should you do if you think you were affected by it? What is the government going to do? We’ll explore this and more below.
Keep a Close Eye on Your Finances
For many consumers, the breach will serve as a wakeup call to keep better track of their finances. You should check your credit card statements and online bank statements regularly. At the very least, check them weekly. The Equifax kerfuffle will have long-term ramifications for many individuals and will not be a tidy and quick cleanup. Your information might be out there, and cyber criminals may not have taken advantage of it yet. So, as the story fades from the headlines, continue to keep tabs on your accounts.
Consider Freezing Your Credit
Equifax is providing free credit monitoring to people whose Social Security Numbers have been stolen. However, this service may come with strings attached. Before you agree to anything, read the fine print to ensure you are not preventing your ability to join a class action lawsuit or to take other actions in the future.
Regardless of whether you get credit monitoring from Equifax, you should still freeze your credit reports at the major bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. And, everyone should get their free report from all of the agencies to see if there are any irregularities or if credit score penalties are justified. For example, you may have a few late payments on your credit report.
The bureaus typically charge between $3 and $10 to place and remove credit freezes. Since your need for a credit freeze was caused by Equifax’s mistakes, you should be sure to document any expenses that are a result of the data breach. You may get reimbursed down the road.
Consider Cyber Security Awareness training
Taking the time to attend a Cyber Security Awareness Training course for you or your family/workplace may equip you with tools to prevent this happening on a smaller scale. Whilst we might be able to point the finger of blame at large companies like Equifax and others who have had data breaches making sure our home and personal data is secure is our own responsibility. There are lots of corporate Cyber Security Training courses you can choose from as well as (in my opinion a less attractive option) numerous software and apps we can install on our personal devices to ensure our personal security is up to scratch.
You can find out if your information was compromised by visiting Equifax. Additionally, you should consider changing all of your passwords. And, if your bank or credit card company offers two-step authentication, sign up for that option as well.