Equifax Security Breach - Were you one of the 143 MILLION Americans affected? I was!

I heard about the Equifax Security Breach this morning and immediately logged in to see if I was affected....and unfortunately I am one of the 143 Americans affected by this breach. Equifax is a credit recording company that pulls credit scores, etc. and is used in the mortgage and home buyer process - the odds are high that some of your personal information may have been stolen through the breach including possibly your address, Social Security number, driver’s license and credit card numbers. Check out the below for facts about the Equifax Security Breach and how to check to see if you are safe or if you need to take proactive measures to securing your information! Thank you to Amanda McCall & Beth Davis with Prime Lending (2 of my favorite lenders for providing this awesome set of info on what to do once you know your information was stolen!)

Facts about the Equifax Security Breach

Equifax Inc. recently announced a cybersecurity incident potentially affecting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. Criminals exploited a website application vulnerability to gain access to files containing private information about consumers. Based on the Equifax’s investigation, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017.

To check if your information was compromised: Equifax has established this website, where you can check whether your information was compromised. If Equifax indicates that your information was affected, here are some tips for responding:

Credit Cards

  • Contact all of your credit card companies and request new cards. While it may be difficult to update all of your automatic payment information for billing accounts linked to your current cards, getting new cards will help reduce the chance for fraud on your accounts.
  • Be vigilant in reviewing your credit card bills and immediately report any unauthorized charges to your card issuer.

Credit Bureaus

  • Contact all credit bureaus to place an extended fraud alert or a credit freeze your credit file.
    • A freeze stops all access to your credit report which in turn makes it difficult for thieves to open up new credit in your name; but it may also prevent you from getting new loans that you have applied for, so use this tool with care.
    • A fraud alert permits creditors to get your report as long as they take steps to verify your identity.
    • The credit bureau may charge a fee for these services - See this Federal Trade Commission website for more information: 

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0279-extended-fraud-alerts-and-credit-freezes

  • Pay attention to how long the freeze or fraud alert will apply. In this case, you may have to renew the fraud alert on a scheduled basis. The above website says it will stay in effect for seven years for an extended alert whereas initial alerts are only effective for 90 days. 

·         Equifax

o   800-525-6285

www.alerts.equifax.com

o   Click at the top of the for the Extended fraud alert.

o   Print the form and fax or mail as per the form.

o   You can also request an initial 90 day Fraud Alert. 

·         TransUnion

o   800-680-7289

https://www.transunion.com/fraud-victim-resource/place-fraud-alert

o   Click Place Extended Fraud Alerts

o   Print Form and mail.

o   You can also request an initial 90 day Fraud Alert. 

·         Experian

o   888-397-3742

https://www.experian.com/fraud/center.html

o   Click Add a Fraud Alert

o   Click 7 Years

o   Print form and upload to Experian.com/upload or mail.

o   It states to mail with payment, if applicable but does not state the amount required.

o   You can also request an initial 90 day Fraud Alert.

Some sites are very busy right now and you may have to try later. 

IRS Fraud Alert

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft

·         Data breach victims should submit a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, only if your Social Security number has been compromised and either your e-File return was rejected as a duplicate or IRS has informed you that you may be a victim of tax-related identity theft.

·         Be alert for scam phone calls from thieves posing as the IRS; you can find information about IRS collection calls here:

Scam Phone Calls Continue; IRS Identifies Five Easy Ways to Spot Suspicious Calls | Internal Revenue Service