In September of 2017, Equifax announced they had had been hacked and consumer information was stolen in July of 2017. Almost 150 million people's information was exposed. That's nearly every single adult person in the United States, and maybe even more than that (children!).
"What can I do to protect myself?"
The first thing you should do is pull your credit report and get rid of any discrepancies (incorrect information about yourself). You can get this at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/
. Load up yours and any children/dependents and get rid of anything that's wrong. If you notice anything that's not right, like loans or lines of credit you might not have taken out, skip right to fraud : https://www.identitytheft.gov/
If nothing looks amiss yet, the next steps you might want to do are place a fraud alert on your credit, or, freeze it. A fraud alert is just a notice from the credit bureaus that someone is attempting to take out a line of credit in your name. Whether this will actually protect you or not is up in the air. These last for about 90 days, but can usually be renewed indefinitely. Some states allow the credit agencies to charge for this. You can place the Fraud Alerts below:
More Info - https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0275-place-fraud-alert
"That doesn't seem like it'd protect me, what else can I do?"
My personal recommendation is a credit freeze with all the major bureaus.
A credit freeze blocks banks and companies that give credit of any sort from pulling your credit report. Why is this important? This is the first step to taking out a new line of credit. Without it, banks can't (shouldn't) do anything, and it stops someone dead in their tracks. The fraud alert will still allow a fraudster to accomplish this first part, and potentially damage your credit before anything can be done about it. There are some less than great places that loan money to people on nothing more than a whim, like payday loans. The downside to shit is if you
need credit you'll need to remove the freeze. But that is better than having your credit ruined. I'd recommend doing it a few days ahead of time, and then once the credit is established (can take up to a month) to reactivate the freeze.
Here's the top 3 credit agencies and their freeze pages:
(if these are not working, be patient!)
You can also reach out to them over the phone:
Note: Some states allow you to be charged for freezing and unfreezing your credit.
- TransUnion - 1-888-909-8872
- Experian - 1‑888‑397‑3742
- Equifax - 1-800-349-9960
(E: Equifax is waiving their fee until the 21st and is refunding fees from last thursday and forward
You'll be asked or given a PIN when you do this. Write this down/print them out. Store it in something like 1password
. DO NOT LOSE THESE. YOU WILL HAVE A ROUGH TIME.
Get a safe deposit box at a bank and drop the paper versions in. Do not store plain text versions of these on your computers, but you absolutely do not ever want to lose these.
If you ever need to open a bank account or a line of credit, or get a loan, you will need to unfreeze your credit to do so. This is a pain in the ass, but it's the reality of the situation until the whole system itself gets fixed by all the credit agencies and Social Security itself. And it's far less of a pain in the ass than someone opening one of those in your name for themselves and ruining your credit.
There's also a 4th credit agency that doesn't get used a whole lot
, but sometimes, and I'd recommend freezing that as well:
You might also want to freeze ChexSystems
, which will slow down people trying to open bank accounts in your name too.
(you'll need the 9 digit zip code for your address
for that one)
There are rumors of a class action lawsuit. Nothing's really definitive yet. There's also this
, which was spun up by the DoNotPay people who fought parking tickets a while back. I assume this is a thing, but I haven't looked into it personally.
"Should I sign up with Equifax's fraud alert at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/ ?"
I will amend this as new information becomes available! Feel free to post it and @ me or PM me about stuff.