By Liza Horvath
Q. I am so upset by this Equifax data breach. It would appear that just about everyone who ever had or applied for credit may have lost their identity! What should I do to protect myself, realistically?
A. You join many in being outraged. This breach was discovered in July and we are only learning about it in mid-September! Some experts have said that the information potentially stolen could put us at the risk of identity theft for the rest of our lives. Yes, we are outraged and, for those who had not already taken steps to secure their identity, this should provide motivation to do so now.
Equifax suggests checking to see if your data was leaked at Equifax.com – click “Potential Impact.” The company is offering a service that will alert you to activity in your credit accounts but, since few have much faith in Equifax at present, you can instead reach out to your bank or credit card companies and sign up directly with them for transaction alerts. Also, get into the habit of checking your accounts for unauthorized activity on a regular basis.
The information accessed may include your social security number, full name, maiden name or other names used, your mother’s maiden name, driver’s license number, places you have lived, birthdate and possibly names of a spouse, prior spouse or other family. It is horrifying!
Consider setting up a credit freeze. A freeze prohibits any new credit accounts from being opened using your social security number. If you decide to lease a car or open new credit for yourself, you can temporarily lift the freeze using the Personal Identification Number…
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