Equifax Credit Team
If you are a victim of a data breach, it does not necessarily mean that you are or will become a victim of identity theft. However, Equifax recommends that you take the following four steps as soon as possible to protect your personal information from misuse.
The basics of fraud alerts and security freezes:
- When you request a fraud alert with Equifax, it is reported to the other two credit reporting agencies.
- Fraud alerts are free.
- Alerts can be placed online, by phone, or by mail.
- Security freezes protect against new account fraud and prevent your credit report from being reported to third parties, such as credit grantors, except those permitted by law or those to which you have given permission.
- Security freeze fees vary by state; they are not free.
- Only you can request a security freeze be placed, temporarily lifted, or permanently removed.
2. Close accounts. Contact the appropriate creditors, banks, phone companies, and utility companies to close any accounts associated with the breached company, as well as any accounts that you know have or believe have been compromised or opened fraudulently.
3. Monitor your credit report. Credit monitoring enables you to watch your credit account activity and protect your identity during a period of time when you may be more vulnerable to identity theft. Some breached organizations offer free credit monitoring services to affected consumers for a limited time; if you receive a letter that offers free monitoring, take advantage of it before the offer expires.
Monitoring products typically charge a monthly fee and include these core product features:
- Three-bureau credit report monitoring
- Identity theft insurance
- Alerts of key changes to your credit file
Consumers can also obtain a free annual credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies at www.annualcreditreport.com.
4. Stay alert. Identity thieves may not use your personal information right away—sometimes they can take up to a year or more. To stay on top of the situation, continue to monitor your credit reports regularly, and read your financial account statements promptly and carefully.
Watch for signs of identity theft like:
- Failing to receive monthly bills or other mail
- Being denied credit or offered less favorable terms (such as a high interest rate)
- Receiving calls or letters from debt collectors for accounts you did not open
The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.