Things You Can Do In Wake Of Equifax Data Breach

After a recent data breach that affected more than 145 million people, you’re probably wondering if your sensitive personal information was affected and what you can do to monitor your credit.

Equifax, one of the United States’ three major credit-reporting agencies, said in September that the massive breach exposed names, addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers. The sensitive information that was exposed could possibly include driver’s license and credit card numbers and that the breach lasted from May until July 2017.

The sensitive data stolen in this attack could be used by crooks to do everything from apply for car or home loans to file fraudulent tax returns.

Why should you be concerned and what can you do?

Anytime your sensitive personal information is stolen of compromised, you need to be on the alert for its possible misuse.

Here are questions and answers to help guide you:

How do I know if my information was affected?

Equifax has set up a web site you can use to check to see if your data might have been hacked. It will ask you to enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. While it’s been reported that the results don’t always show up on the page due to the number of people trying to get information, you should be told either it appears your data was compromised or not. Equifax said it will also mail written notices to people whose data might have been affected.

You can also call this Equifax telephone number: 866-447-7559.

What are my options if my data was part of the breach?

Equifax is allowing free use of a credit-monitoring service called TrustedID Premier for a year and experts, including Consumer Reports, are recommending that you take advantage of it.

While there initially was some concern that using this service would preclude you from taking legal action against Equifax, the company is saying that is not the case.

If you elect to use TrustedID, you’ll be asked to provide data that lets you check if you were affected by the data breach and then be given the option to enroll. This is a multi-step process that will require you to provide additional information during enrollment.

The enrollment period is scheduled to end on Jan. 31, 2018.

Do I have other options?

There are other ways you can monitor your credit reports and your accounts. They include:

Place a credit freeze - A credit freeze allows you to restrict access to your credit report, which is available through the three major credit-reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

This blocks most creditors from seeing your file, and makes it more difficult for identify thieves to open accounts in your name or change account information. If you decide to take out a loan while you have this kind of security freeze, you’ll need to request that your file be unlocked so the creditor can check your report. Freezing and unfreezing your credit report needs to be done separately at each of the reporting agencies, and can cost anywhere from $5 to $10 each time you do it.

In the wake of its data breach, Equifax is allowing you to freeze your credit for free for a year, but it’s likely you’ll have to pay at Experian and TransUnion.

Here’s how to contact each of the agencies to place a freeze:

Click here for more information about credit freezes.

Check your credit report – You can – and should – check your credit reports regularly to monitor them for suspicious activity. You can do that for free once a year at each of the three credit-reporting agencies.

Visit to request your free reports.

Place a fraud alert – This lets creditors know that you may be a victim of identity theft and that they should ensure that anyone requesting credit in your name is really you. Visit this site for more information about fraud alerts.

Monitor your credit and debit card statements – Check your debit and credit card statements frequently to look for suspicious charges or other irregularities and report any problems immediately by calling the customer service number listed on the back of your cards.

What do I do if I feel that I’m a victim of identity theft?

Identity theft can be costly and affect your ability to get credit, so it’s important to do everything you can to prevent it. However, if you believe you’re a victim, visit for help reporting and recovering from it.