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Devastating Equifax Breach Affects Everyone (you too), what now?

Devastating Equifax Breach Affects Everyone (you too), what now?

Chances are good you’ve heard about the recent Equinox data breach. This data breach is not only one of the biggest data breaches ever, it is also likely to be one of the most damaging. For the sake of brevity we have condensed this article down to what you NEED TO KNOW:

  • 143 million people affected (mostly US, but also UK and Canada)
  • Social security numbers, birthdates, addresses, driver’s license numbers
  • Breach detected July 29, 2017 — was reported to public September 7, 2017
  • Unknown who is behind the breach

Most importantly, YOU ARE MOST LIKELY AFFECTED BY THIS BREACH!

What now?

First off, determine if your information was obtained in this attack by clicking here.

NOTE: there was some backlash against whether you could sue Equifax by signing up for their TrustedID identity monitoring service on September 7. This was updated on September 8, 2017:

In response to consumer inquiries, we have made it clear that the arbitration clause and class action waiver included in the Equifax and TrustedID Premier terms of use does not apply to this cybersecurity incident. (Equifax September 8, 2018)

NOTE 2: Krebsonsecurity reported that this site was not functional when it was launched. This has since been fixed.

My Personal Information Was NOT Impacted

Consider yourself lucky. Regardless of your data being breached, it is still a good idea to take steps to protect your identity. All of the data that was stolen constitutes highly sensitive information, especially social security numbers. Consider taking the following steps to ensure that your identity is protected (after all, wouldn’t you want to know if people are opening credit cards and mortgages in your name???):

Change your passwords
At the very least you should change your most sensitive passwords:

  • Email
  • Bank
  • Credit Cards
  • Retirement / Investment accounts
  • Healthcare

If possible, setup multifactor authentication. This makes it harder for people to break into your accounts, even if they know your password.

Contact your banks/credit card companies
Speak to a live person, tell them your account is at risk of fraud. Ask to be notified of any suspicious activity on account. You’re likely get issued new cards. YOU MUST NOTIFY BANKS ASAP OR YOU MAY BE LIABLE FOR CHARGES.

Contact credit report bureaus
Even if you aren’t affected, keep in mind that this is a massive data breach. Let the credit reporting bureaus to put a fraud alert in your name. You can also request a credit freeze, but keep in mind that this could cause unforeseen complications when you apply for new cards, mortgages, or other day to day expenses.

Contact information below:

Sign Up for Credit/Identity Monitoring
Equifax is offering TrustedID free for 1 year following this incident, whether your personal information was impacted or not. Not feeling trusting of Equifax, take a look at some alternatives here.

My Personal Information WAS Impacted

Take a breather and prepare to start making some calls. Identity theft can take multiple years to resolve and you must take the following actions to ensure that you have a legal basis for any disputes that may come up in the future.

Document EVERYTHING
Every email, phone call, letter, conversation you have should be logged somewhere. If any legal disputes come up you’ll want to be prepared with lots of documentation. When making notes, include the following at a minimum:

  • Data of event
  • Type of event (letter, conversation, phone call)
  • Notes of event (phone number called, conversation notes, any id/confirmation/report numbers, additional personal notes about the event)

Worried about losing this file? Consider creating a Google spreadsheet or similar.

File report with local police
This is VERY important. Filing a report establishes a legal basis for identity theft. Let the police know that your social security number was stolen.

File report with federal government
You can do this online by visiting: https://www.identitytheft.gov/Assistant.

File report with IRS
You can do this online: https://www.irs.gov/identity-theft-fraud-scams/identity-protection

Report theft of SSN to Internet Crime Complaint Center
You can do this online: https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx/

Contact Credit Bureaus
Let credit bureaus know that your your social security number has been stolen. You also might want to consider a credit freeze.

Contact information below:

Keep track of fraudulent accounts
It is probably a good idea to sign up for identity/credit monitoring services ASAP. This will notify you when new accounts are opened under your name. If you notice a new account open, make sure to contact the company opening the account AND the credit bureaus–let them know that the account is fraudulent and that it needs to be closed.

Remember, Equifax is offering TrustedID free for 1 year following this incident, whether your personal information was impacted or not. Not feeling trusting of Equifax, take a look at some alternatives here.

Contact information below: