If you’ve seen the news, you are probably wondering whether you’re affected by the Equifax data breach. The credit bureau just reported a cyber attack that compromised the personal information of up to 143 million consumers. According to Pamela Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, if you have a credit report, the chances are better than 50 percent that you are affected by the breach.
The breached personal information includes Social Security numbers (SSNs), names, birth dates, addresses, and some driver licenses and credit card numbers—enough information for identity thieves to open credit accounts or loans, rent property, etc. in victim’s names. This type of stolen information is typically sold to other criminals on the Dark Web. Because SSNs don’t change, new instances of identity theft from a breach can go on for years, so you should act now to protect yourself from identity theft – planning for prevention, detection, and if needed, recovery.
To help with detection, Equifax is offering a free year of TrustedID Premier, their 3-bureau credit monitoring service. Anyone can sign up at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com The service will send alerts about changes to your credit reports with the 3 major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union), and it will provide you copies of your Equifax credit report. One concern with the TrustedID Premier service is that it does not include identity recovery or restoration service, which is a critical feature in any identity protection product. You should also request copies of your credit reports from the other two bureaus. You are legally entitled to a free report each year from each bureau, so you can request one every four months from AnnualCreditReport.com to keep on top of suspicious activity. You will need to stay vigilant, checking your credit reports and perhaps paying for credit monitoring after free monitoring expires.
To prevent identity theft, some experts are recommending placing a freeze on your credit reports. This blocks new activity by preventing lenders and others from accessing the reports. Unfortunately, this also blocks you from things you may need to do, such as getting a car loan or a mortgage. The risk from a breach can go on for years, and you don’t want to spend years putting on credit freezes and taking them off whenever you apply for a credit card, so instead of a credit freeze, we recommend placing a 90-day fraud alert on your reports with each of the credit bureaus. You can replace the alert every 90 days for as long as you see fit. If you become a victim of identity theft, you can file a police report and you then have the option of filing for a seven-year fraud alert.
Finally, plan ahead for recovery in case you do become a victim of identity theft. Identity monitoring can alert you of problems, and identity theft insurance will typically reimburse you for the out-of-pocket expenses used in restoring your identity (but not for financial losses as a result of identity theft). However, neither can save you from the wasted time, frustration, and disruption that identity theft causes in your life. To ensure a speedy, lower stress recovery, consider enrolling in identity protection services that include identity recovery.
With an identity protection service such as MyIDCare, an expert recovery advocate will work on your behalf with businesses, banks, and credit bureaus to restore your identity to pre-theft condition. MyIDCare members are covered for identity theft from any breach as well as all nine types of identity theft, and MyIDCare monitoring services will continuously monitor your credit files and the Dark Web for signs of fraudulent activity. We provide protection for you or the whole family, and enrollment is easy. Sign up by clicking here now.