The Federal Trade Commission has acknowledged that there were 143 million consumers affected by the Equifax breach in which Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses and driver’s licenses were stolen between mid-May and the end of July.
The Equifax website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, allows you to enter your last name and last six digits of your Social Security number upon selecting “Am I Impacted?” to determine if your data was compromised. Equifax is also offering a free credit monitoring service though it only applies to credit reports and data maintained by them.
Additional government agencies have become involved in the Equifax breach; there have been a growing number of suggested actions for consumers to take in order to better protect themselves. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released various action items and links on their website consumer.ftc.gov to help consumers assess their vulnerability.
Placing a freeze on your credit files is a consideration, which makes it more difficult for someone to open a new account in your name. It may also elongate the application process should you be running credit yourself for a legitimate reason. If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your credit files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be a victim of identity theft and that they should closely verify anyone seeking credit in your name. The FTC also suggests monitoring your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges that are not recognizable.
As we approach year end and a new tax filing season, the FTC suggests filing tax returns early in efforts to avert a tax scammer from using your social security number to get a tax refund based on your information. We hate for anyone to be hurt by this breach, it is of paramount importance to us that our clients are fully informed and taking the necessary steps to protect themselves.
Max W. Smith, CFP®, CIMA® | Kent G. Forsey, CFP®
Source: Federal Trade Commission; consumer.ftc.gov; The Equifax Breach: What To Do; OneBlueWindow, LLC