You may have heard on the news last week that Equifax was affected by a major cybersecurity attack. You may be wondering what does this mean. Are you affected? And what do you need to do to protect your credit?
First of all, who is Equifax®?
“Equifax Inc. is a consumer credit reporting agency in the United States, considered one of the three largest American credit agencies along with Experian and TransUnion,” Wikipedia.
According to Equifax the cyber attack, which was discovered on July 29th, attained personal information including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers for about 143 million Americans. That is nearly half of the US population. It is estimated that over 200,000 credit card numbers were obtained during the cyber attack.
What does this mean for me?
Whether or not you use your credit, or have accessed your credit report on Equifax, this is relevant to you. Equifax (and the other credit reporting agencies) has data on you whether or not you use your credit. If you are among those whose personal information was obtained by the hackers, you should be aware of this heist and protect your credit. While it may be quick to cancel a compromised credit card, there are bigger consequences when your personal information is stolen. A hacker could use that personal information to apply for lines of credit as you, create fake ids as you, steal your tax refund, open up an account under your name. If you have tried to be a credit conscious consumer, building your credit and responsibly using your credit, credit fraud is not only frustrating to correct but can compromise what you’ve been working for.
What should I do?
Be proactive. Whether or not you have a credit card, have a mortgage, or have monitored your credit in the past, now is the time to act.
1. Check if your personal information was potential impacted
The Equifax Security 2017 resource allows you to search by your last name and last six numbers of your social security number to identify if any of your personal information may have been compromised in the cybersecurity hack.
2. Check your accounts
- Most financial institutions have notifications you can set up through your online banking account. Set notifications for transactions on your credit card or bank accounts.
- Review your recent credit card or debit card statements. If you see a charge that you do not recognize, contact them or file a dispute.
- Many banks and credit unions are also writing about this topic, with expert insights on how you can protect yourself from credit fraud.
3. Monitor and protect your credit
- TrustID Premier, offered through the Equifax Security 2017 website in response to this attack gives one year of tools to monitor your credit. Once you enroll in TrustID Premier, you will get copies of your Equifax Credit Report, three bureau credit file monitoring, Equifax credit report lock, social security number monitoring, and $1M identity theft insurance. Don’t procrastinate. The enrollment period ends on Tuesday, November 21, 2017.
- Set up fraud alerts
- Consider freezing your credit. Colorado’s FirstBank advised in their blog that “A credit freeze locks down your credit and restricts access to your credit report, which makes it difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name, because creditors require access to your report in order to approve a new account. However, be warned: freezing your credit may slow your ability to obtain credit and fees may apply (they typically range from $5 to $10).” The contact numbers are: Transunion at 1-888-909-8872, Equifax at 1-800-349-9960, and Experian at 1‑888‑397‑3742.
- If you find fraudulent activity in your credit, report it to identitytheft.gov
We are we, Mark’s Auto Sales starting this discussion?
As your local automotive dealer, Mark’s Auto Sales, and our related finance company, META Financial Services Inc, we’ve frequently discussed topics about credit with our customers. As a buy here pay here dealer, we use your credit to verify who you are. While our financing approval isn’t based solely on credit, credit is a major consideration for all lenders and consumers. As a business that uses private information for our customers, we take data security seriously, and follow federal requirements to protect our customers’ data. As a consumer, it is just as important to know how credit topics affect you.
Below are a few additional articles that we’ve read on the topic that we think you will find helpful.