How To Protect Yourself in The Wake Of The Equifax Data Breach
15 September 2017 09:43
So we’ve all heard by now of the monstrous data breach affecting 143 million US consumers, not to mention up to 44 million UK customers. Valuable personal information and identities have been exposed - all because of a missed patch.
But what happens now? For the millions of consumers worried that their data has been leaked, there hasn’t been much word of guidance so far. So, here are four recommendations (credit to Brian Krebs) on how you can protect yourself against identity thieves.
1. Take advantage of credit monitoring services
In reaction to the breach, Equifax is offering free credit monitoring for everyone affected by the data breach. It should be said that Equifax has clarified that victims of the breach DO NOT waive their right to sue by signing up for the service.
Of course, there are other alternative credit monitoring services available if you’re not quite ready to take Equifax up on their offer. But one more thing should be pointed out - credit monitoring services help customers recover from identity theft, but they don’t prevent it.
Similar read: Equifax data breach | Oh it's bad - here's how bad
2. Establish a security freeze on your credit file
For those affected by the Equifax data breach, placing a security freeze on your credit files is a viable option. This effectively puts in place a block for potential creditors, meaning they can’t view your file unless you lift the freeze. This makes it difficult for bad actors to apply for credit in your name.
Setting this freeze up usually costs between $0-$15, but can vary by state. To get full coverage protection, it’s important to place a freeze on your credit file with each of the three main credit bureaus - these being Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and Innovis.
(There’s some useful info their websites about how to put in place this security freeze via email, phone or online form).
3. Periodically order a copy of your credit report
This is a good step to take as, unfortunately, a security freeze doesn’t stop everyone from using your credit file. Periodically order a copy of your credit report so you can monitor it for any suspicious or unauthorised changes.
Also, consider checking with your bank and credit issuer about the types of transaction notifications you can set up on your account. Putting in place these alerts will help you stay on top of your debit and credit card activity.
Similar read: Spambot leaks 711m email addresses - Is yours exposed?
4. Create a security alert or security freeze for your consumer file
Another alert worth setting up is “a fraud alert” or security freeze on your consumer file. This can help prevent identity theft by using check verification services and consumer credit reporting agencies, that provides your bank with a consumer report whenever someone tries to create a new savings or checking account in your name.
5. Opt out of new credit report and insurance offers
It’s been known for attackers to intercept new credit or insurance offers in the mail so that they can open new lines of credit in your name. You can easily opt out of these offers with OptOutPrescreen.com.