Equifax hack: find out what to do if your data is compromised
Credit rating company Equifax has been the victim of a massive hack of its databases. The personal details of 143 million Americans and some from overseas were stolen. This is a particularly damaging attack as it included Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses. Some credit card details of over 200 thousand people were also hacked.
But what can you do if you want to check if you have been affected by the breach?
Equifax discovered the hack happened in July 2017, but only notified people of the news in September. The hackers accessed customer data between mid-May and the end of July.
Equifax acted quickly and established an advice section on its website.
If you want to check if you have been affected, you can submit your surname and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Equifax will then get provide additional steps and advice if you are a victim.
To mitigate the potential after-effects of the hack, Equifax is offering a year’s worth of its credit monitoring service too.
The next step for U.S. citizens concerned by the attack is to freeze their credit. This makes it harder for criminals to open new credit cards with your details. There are three agencies that will need to be called:
- Equifax: 1-800-349-9960
- Experian: 1‑888‑397‑3742
- TransUnion: 1-888-909-8872
You can also set-up a free 90-day fraud alert via the FTC.
Citizens from outside the U.S. should get in touch with their local banks and credit card providers for advice.
As this attack is one of the biggest of all time, you should be vigilant. Please be advised that you could see:
- Unexplained withdrawals from your bank accounts
- Less mail or regular bills
- Debt collectors calling you about debts you don’t recognize
- Your medical records don’t match your history
The U.S. government can help if you have been a victim of identity fraud. Their website will give you a step-by-step guide to recovering your data.
You can read our guide on protecting yourself from identity theft, and it is important not to panic, but to monitor your accounts for signs of tampering.
It is also important to always remember to change your password regularly (every three months). While that might not help in this breach, the majority of hacks do the most damage because of compromised passwords. We developed a handy guide on how to create a secure password. Check it out!
Unfortunately, in the case of Equifax, you cannot change your Social Security number, so if you are a U.S. citizen, you will have to monitor for any signs of fraud.