Last week, the sensitive personal information of 143 million Americans was exposed after a data breach at Equifax, a credit reporting agency. Names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers may have been exposed (Federal Trade Commission).
If you were affected, your information may end up in the hands of identity thieves. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
You can visit Equifax’s website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to see if your information was exposed. Make sure that you’re on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection, as you’ll be asked for your last name and part of your Social Security number.
If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance you are affected. BBB has compiled eight tips to help you protect yourself in the wake of a data breach. Please visit bbb.org/breach to learn more.
You may want to consider putting a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports. A freeze will prevent anyone from accessing your credit report or scores, meaning no one can apply for new credit. A fraud alert will flag your account but doesn’t automatically halt new credit being opened in your name. You can learn more about this option at go.bbb.org/creditfreeze.
It’s also important to be wary of scammers. The FTC has warned that consumers are receiving scam phone calls impersonating Equifax, claiming to be “calling to verify your account information”. Equifax will not call you out of the blue. Never provide personal or financial information over the phone unless you initiated the call and you’re sure the number is correct. For more tips on avoiding Equifax phone scams, click here.