An estimated 143 million Americans have been affected by the Equifax data breach. Equifax discovered the breach in late July, but told the public a month later. Hackers stole Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, birth dates and other financial data from millions of Americans. This information can be used to carry out widespread identity theft. An identity thief could fraudulently open new lines of credit with this information.
There is a way to check whether you were affected by the breach. In addition, you can also take measures to protect yourself from identity theft.
- How to check if you are affected. Equifax created a website for consumers that will allow you to discover whether you were affected by the breach. Use https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/ and click the “potential impact” tab on the site.
- How to freeze your credit: The North Carolina Attorney General’s website discusses steps you can take to freeze your credit. A credit freeze will temporarily halt any new accounts from being opened in your name. However, it also stops potential employers and creditors from accessing your credit history. You can also “thaw” the freeze, which will allow potential employers or creditors to temporarily access your credit.
If you believe you were affected by the breach or any other type of scam, then you can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office at 1-877-5-NOSCAM. You can also file a complaint online or through the mail.
How Else Can I Check for Identity Theft?
You are owed one free credit report from each of the bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) once per year. The credit bureaus are obligated to provide these reports under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. AnnualCreditReport.com is the only website authorized to provide these reports. If you do not trust Equifax, then you may pull your reports from TransUnion and Experian by using this website. Credit reports from the other bureaus might show whether new lines of credit have been opened in your name.
At Riddle & Brantley, LLP, Justice Counts. Continue following our blog for future updates on safety tips and consumer protection news.