In the recent Equifax breach, an estimated 143 million Americans may have had their personal information exposed. As the situation develops, there seems to be many more questions than answers. So what should you do in the meantime?
1.) Are you a part of the breach?
If you have any type of credit product such as a credit card, mortgage or auto loan, there’s a chance your personal information may have been compromised.
Go to the “Potential Impact” tab on the Equifax Security site where you’ll be prompted to enter the last six digits of your Social Security number. Keep in mind your SSN is sensitive information. Remember to complete this step only on a secure computer that uses an encrypted network connection.
2.) Place a credit freeze on your files with all three main credit bureaus
From our research, this is the best option to protect your identity even if you were not apart of the breach. It won’t stop a thief from making charges to your existing accounts, but a credit freeze will stop them from opening new lines of credit in your name.
For more information about how to freeze your credit with each credit agency, we recommend checking out Clark Howard’s Credit Freeze Guide.
3.) Free protective services
Sign up at Credit Karma. In addition to a free account you will also have access to free credit monitoring services and alerts for suspicious activity. Plus, you’ll get free access to your credit reports and scores, as well as tips to improve your credit.
Equifax is also offering their consumers the option to enroll in a complimentary identity theft protection and credit file monitoring services until November 21, 2017 . However, it might be a little difficult to trust the company that lost your identity in the first place.
4.) File your taxes early
Tax identity theft is more common than you think. If your SSN was accessed in this breach, it’s best to file your taxes as soon as you have all the necessary tax information. Don’t let a scammer use your SSN to get their hands on your tax refund.
Be sure to respond immediately to any letters you receive from the IRS. However, be suspicious of any emails or phone calls claiming to be from the IRS. The IRS will not initially notify you using such means.