Equifax Security Breach: Steps to Protect Yourself

Equifax, a national credit reporting agency that collects personal data on consumers, had a security breach that lasted from mid-May through July 2017. As a result 143 million people had information such as Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers exposed.

Find out if you were impacted at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/

Order your free credits reports annually through the federally authorized web site www.annualcreditreport.com . Your credit reports, not your score, will provide a detailed history that may better alert you to credit fraud.

Consider placing a security freeze on your accounts. A credit security freeze will prohibit the credit reporting agencies from releasing your information unless you lift the freeze. In Florida, if you are under 65 years old it costs $10 to place a freeze with each agency. Currently, Equifax is waiving fees. If you are 65 or older or have been a victim of identity theft the fee is waived.If you want to open new accounts you will need to lift the freeze. The companies are allowed to charge up to $10 and can take up to 3 business days to lift the freeze.

The credit freeze must be requested from all 3 credit reporting agencies – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Web sites to request a freeze:
Equifax https://www.freeze.equifax.com 
TransUnion https://freeze.transunion.com/
Experian https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

Be patient & persistent, many consumers are taking these steps. So the web sites often get temporarily overloaded, even in the early morning hours.

Existing protections:

  • If your credit card account number is stolen federal law states that you cannot be held liable for the fraudulent charges. If the physical card is stolen you can be held liable for at most $50.00. Obviously, you need to report the fraud.
  • Federal law does not offer the same blanket coverage for debit cards. However, private institutions offer this protection at no charge. The downside with debit cards is having money fraudulently removed from your account can cause problems with non-fraudulent transactions.
  • Order your Consumer Report available through chexsystems.com. This report includes a five year history of check orders and information reported regarding returned checks or collection accounts. By federal law you are entitled to an annual free report

Find out more:
Information about a security freeze for Florida residents
http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Consumer-Resources/Scams-and-Fraud/Identity-Theft/Security-Freeze-Credit-Report
Florida Statute regarding consumer security freeze
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0500-0599/0501/Sections/0501.005.html
Federal Trade Commission, steps to take to protect your information
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-data-breach-what-do