4 Tips to Deal with the Equifax Breach (and Others That Follow)

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Financial Tip of the Day

I heard about the Equifax breach yesterday and sighed. It can get downright frustrating and discouraging to work so hard to build good credit and a good credit score, and then find out that hackers may be able to destroy all your hard work in minutes. But no matter how disturbing and frightening this news is, it only strengthens my resolve to protect my own personal information. Even if Equifax apparently doesn’t care to do so. According to the NY Times: "Equifax Says Cyberattack May Have Affected 143 Million Customers" - this is their 3rd major security breach within 2 years. Here are 4 tips to further protect yourself from identity theft:

1)      Equifax is providing free 3-Bureau credit monitoring services to ALL consumer for 1 year at  https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/. Take advantage of this by following their steps to enroll – deadline to enroll is November 21, 2017.

2)      In the meantime - or in addition to this service - check 2 of your credit reports regularly using Credit Karma (which is free) or a similar site. Also, visit AnnnualCreditReport.com to review all 3 credit reports (12 months from when you last ordered each one) to see if any new accounts have been opened without your knowledge.

3)      Check your financial accounts frequently and regularly. I monitor all of mine daily. However, if you’re not able to do that, I suggest doing so weekly. Apps like Mint.com allow you to access all accounts and balances in one place.

4)      Consider doing a “credit freeze” with each of the credit bureaus. Just keep in mind, if you decide to apply for new credit, you’ll need to notify the bureaus ahead of time to ask them to temporarily remove the freeze and to put it back on afterwards. Read more about it here: Credit Freeze FAQs. Or as mentioned in the NY Times piece above, you can also request Fraud Alerts from any of the 3 bureaus.