Equifax’s “security incident” earlier this week affected 143 million Americans. That’s a huge number of people, which means that the chances that either you or someone you know being affected are pretty high. Equifax’s site was even providing positive results for fake social security numbers at one point.
If you were one of the millions affected by the attack, then you have to figure out what to do next. CNET put together a pretty good step by step for people. Here are a few of its suggestions:
Equifax is offering a free year of TrustedID to everyone. The credit monitoring service “includes 3-Bureau credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports; copies of Equifax credit reports; the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports; identity theft insurance; and Internet scanning for Social Security numbers.”
Equifax faced a bit of backlash via social media when it made the offer, one because you have to wait to sign up on a specific date the company doesn’t plan on reminding you of, and two, because a clause in the terms of service of the company’s site dedicated to the hack added an arbitration clause that seemed to imply you were waiving your right to sue the company for the hack if you took advantage of it.
The clause really only applied to suing them specifically for the site itself, not the hack, but the company added an opt-out feature Friday, which allows you to opt-out of giving up your right to sue by sending a letter.
The tool on the site that tells you if you were hacked might also be broken right now, so there’s that.
This breach actually happened three months ago, so there’s a chance that your information is already being used. Check your credit report and make sure there’s nothing out of the ordinary happening.
CNET suggests freezing your credit , which is a suggestion we made last week as well. If you freeze your credit, then anyone who wants to use your credit to open an account with needs a special PIN.
If you’re not planning on making any big purchases soon or opening any new credit cards, then it can be a good preventative move in keeping your credit safe.
Setting up a fraud alert is another one of those things that will make using your credit a bit of a hassle, but can keep you protected. If you set up a fraud alert, then a company will have to verify your identity before they can open an account in your name.
You set one up by contacting a credit bureau (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion), and they last 90 days.
CNET brings up a good point about watching out when you file your taxes this year. Sometimes people will use personal info to file false tax returns to get refunds. That means if you file your taxes after them, you might get a message from the IRS saying your taxes have already been filed.
If you can, make sure to file your taxes on the early side this year.
Updated, 7:30 p.m. on 9/10/17: The number of people affected by the hack is estimated at 143 million. An earlier version of the post mistakenly stated it as 143,000.