Equifax was Hacked. What Now?

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You have likely read about the recent Equifax hack, where hackers accessed personal information of 143 million consumers.  You need to be concerned because the type of information that could have been accessed can be used to commit fraud and identity theft.  If you haven’t already, it’s time to take some steps to protect yourself and lock down your information.  Here are some specific steps. 

1. See if you were impacted.  Equifax has set up a web site: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com for individuals to check if their information was accessed by the hackers.  Once you are at the site, scroll down and select Potential Impact.  Equifax will be sending physical notifications to those impacted, but no timeframe has been communicated as of yet.

​2. Place a security freeze on your credit report.  This seals your report so new lines of credit can’t be opened even if a hacker has your personal information.  You will have the ability to provide a password for legitimate applications for credit.  Freezing your report has to be done separately with each bureau.  Here are some links for each:   

a) https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp

b) http://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/credit-education/preventing-fraud/security-freeze/

c) https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze

3. See if you’re eligible for an IRS Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN).  An IP PIN adds an extra layer of security to your tax filings, allowing the IRS to verify it’s you submitting a return – either electronic or paper.  This prevents a hacker filing a phony return and collecting refunds before you file your legitimate return.  Visit https://www.irs.gov/identity-theft-fraud-scams/the-identity-protection-pin-ip-pin for more information.

4. Set up purchase alerts on your credit cards.  These generally work by sending you’re a text message when your card has been used for a purchase.  You can set a threshold, but since most fraud starts with small purchases, it’s best to set that threshold at $0.  Go to your on-line profile for each card to get the details.  While you’re there make sure your password is secure, and if you were affected by Equifax go ahead and change your password.    

5. Consider locking your social security number.  Once locked, no one can apply for a job using your SS# or apply for credit or open a new account that requires a SS#.  In certain scenarios, like if you’re changing jobs or buying a home, this can cause headaches but if neither applies to you this step can further protect your identity.  To lock your social security number, visit https://myeverify.uscis.gov/ and complete the necessary steps online.  Once you apply, the lock will last for a year unless you purposefully unlock it. 

6. Be wary of phone calls demanding payments. Don’t believe anyone who calls and says you must pay taxes or a debt immediately, even if they have your personal information.  Demand they send the request in writing and hang up. 

7. Make a report (if necessary).  Finally, if at any point you discover fraudulent activity visit https://www.identitytheft.gov/ to file a report and get advice on how to recover.

These types of attacks are increasing every year, so it’s time to take more concrete action to protect yourself.  A little inconvenience now can save a lot of time and money down the line. 

Learn more about how to prevent your organization and data from these types of breaches with HID Identity & Access Management Solutions.