Staying Safe, One Year After the Equifax Breach

Staying Safe, One Year After the Equifax Breach

Last September, we posted a response to the historic Equifax breach. The breach affected nearly 150 million Americans as hackers had stolen birthdates, Social Security numbers, addresses and driver’s license numbers.

If the Equifax breach taught us anything, it’s that nobody’s information is 100 percent safe – no matter what someone tells you. We need to be more diligent about how we protect our information, and there are tools to help you do that.

To make up for information compromised through their online systems, Equifax offered a free one-year subscription to TrustedID – a credit monitoring and identity theft protection service.

We want to give a couple tips, for those who took advantage of the free service or those who are still unprotected, on how to secure your information moving forward.

The two main suggestions:

  1. Freeze your credit report with each of the four credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and Innovis (after the Equifax breach, Innovis surged in popularity as a fourth credit bureau). Freezing a credit report will prevent third-party sources from accessing your information.
  2. Add Identity Theft Protection Coverage, which helps monitor your credit activity, while also providing remediation insurance in the event of identity theft. This will provide expert resources, as well as expense reimbursements for recovering your identity. Examples of services you can check out are LifeLock or Zander. As you seek different options, don’t forget to ask your homeowner’s insurance provider if they offer any type of remediation.

There are multiple reasons to freeze your credit report; although it may take effort on your end, it will pay off if another similar breach occurs.  As always, be prepared for unexpected inconveniences once the freeze is in place, like credit applications denied at the cash register, or not being able to access your Social Security information.

Another idea is to close any accounts you aren’t currently using. Idle accounts, that you may not be paying attention to, could be easy targets for hackers.

Until the Equifax breach, not many people cared about securing their information. But now it is imperative.

As the four main credit bureaus possess millions of individual’s information, know that freezing your report allows you to take back control. The Equifax breach reminded us of a harsh reality: life throws us curveballs. How prepared are you to handle that pitch?

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