The recent data hacking of Equifax has impacted the majority of Americans. Here’s what you need to do to find out if your data was breached and what to do to protect yourself and your credit. October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and now is the time to make some simple updates and changes to make your digital life more secure.
What you need to do.
- Find out if your information was exposed. Use this link.
- If your information has been reported as stolen, enroll in Equifax’s free credit monitoring service.
- Over the course of several days the credit reports from Experian and TransUnion will feed in to your dashboard.
- Review all three of these reports for suspicious or unrecognized entries.
Or, check your credit for free at:
Think about freezing your credit.
- This makes it difficult for someone to open new credit in your name
- Remember, if you require a new line of credit for a mortgage, car, credit card, you will need to unfreeze your credit
- Plan ahead it takes up to 48 hours to freeze and unfreeze your credit
- There is a cost associated with this at the other credit bureaus. Equifax is allowing those impacted to do freeze for free.
What else you should do.
- File your taxes quickly. Scammers can file fraudulent taxes in an effort to obtain your refund.
- Respond to letter from the IRS quickly as they’ll report duplicate taxes being filed with your social security number
- Don’t fall for IRS scams –they will not call you to threaten you.
Some individuals may have had their credit card number information breached.
- Equifax should contact you to notify you of this.
- Change your credit card number if you have been notified.
As always if you notice anything suspicious or out of the ordinary, report it to the relevant company’s fraud department and the credit bureaus. A little vigilance can go a long way and save years of hassle trying to have your credit fixed.
Now that you’ve addressed the Equifax leak it’s a good time to do a few simple things to make your online presence a little more secure and more difficult for those looking to access your personal information.
- Free Wi-Fi is convenient, but it’s not safe.
- Never conduct banking or shopping on a free network. They are not secure.
- Don’t open or click on links in suspicious emails.
- Think about your privacy
- Don’t share sensitive information over social media.
- Adjust your privacy settings. Your profile doesn’t need to be public.
- Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
- Back up your information
- Ransom attacks are becoming more common.
- Protect your work, photos, and information by backing up to the cloud or a stand-alone hard drive.
- Update your software
- New security patches are added frequently.
- Strong passwords are a must
- Don’t use the same password on multiple sites.
- Don’t make your password easy.
- If available take advantage of multi-factor verification.
- Typically you’ll receive a code sent to your phone
If you have any questions or concerns about your accounts, please feel free to ask a Warren-Boynton staff member.