How to Protect Yourself Against the Recent Equifax Breach

Equifax, one of the leading consumer credit reporting agencies announced a major cyber-attack that may have impacted 143 million consumer accounts in the United States. This was Credit Bureau data that included consumer social security numbers, addresses, accounts, birth dates, and maybe driver’s license information, etc. contains information about the cybersecurity incident, information to help consumers determine if they have been potentially impacted, and information to enroll in the complimentary credit file monitoring and identity theft protection.

With all of the new technology in this world, it is important to do all that you can to stop or prevent criminals from stealing your personal information. Here are some things that you can do to catch fraudulent activity on your account as soon as possible.

  • Keep your contact information up-to-date so we are able to contact you in the event of suspicious account activity such as your address, cell phone, email and home phone.
  • Open and review ALL monthly statements.
  • Beware of phishing emails and phone calls.

Here are five things you can do if you are worried now:

  1. Check your free credit reports
    1. Under federal law you are allowed to request a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can request a copy of your credit report online at
    2. A free credit report will tell you if anyone has requested a check on your credit. This happens, for example, if someone tries to open a new credit card or apply for a loan in your name.
    3. Any credit requests could take time to show up on your report, so you won’t necessarily see any changes right away.
  2. Put a fraud alert on your credit
    1. You can put a fraud alert on your credit reports for free by contacting one of the credit agencies, which is required to notify the other two.
    2. You will be contacted if someone tries to apply for credit in your name.
    3. A fraud alert will last for 90 days and can be renewed.
    4. Keep an eye on bank accounts and credit card statements
    5. Go through all your bank, retirement, and brokerage accounts, as well as your credit card statements to look for any suspicious activity.
  3. Sign up for a credit monitoring or identity theft protection services
    1. Monitoring services usually alert you when a company checks your credit history, a new loan or credit card is opened in your name, a creditor says a payment is late, or if public records show you’ve filed for bankruptcy, according to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).
    2. Most credit monitoring services only track your credit reports. They still won’t alert you to suspicious activity on your credit card or in your bank accounts.
    3. Some monitoring services include identity theft protection, which will alert you when your personal information is being used in ways that doesn’t show up on your credit report. It could monitor things like utility and cable bills, payday loan applications, and social media.
      1. These services won’t prevent fraud from happening. But some do offer identity recovery services to help you regain control of your finances after identity theft occurs. The government offers a free resource for recovering from identity theft at
    4. A cost is usually involved with a credit monitoring service or identity theft protection, Equifax is offering a free year of credit monitoring through its TrustedID Premier business, regardless of whether you’ve been affected by the hack.
      1. This will track your credit report from Equifax, as well as your reports from the two other reporting agencies, and alert you to certain changes. TrustedID Premier will also provide free copies of those reports and the ability to lock your Equifax credit report so companies cannot see it. It includes identity theft insurance and it will scan the Internet for use of your Social Security number, as well.
  4. If you’re really worried, put a freeze on your credit
    1. This is an extreme step and might not be necessary, especially if you don’t know for sure that your information was compromised, or what personal information was stolen.
    2. A freeze blocks anyone from accessing your credit reports without your permission. But it can be an inconvenience for you, too. If you want to take out a loan or open a new credit card, you’ll have to contact the reporting agency to temporarily lift the freeze. It’s also not free. Fees to freeze your account vary by state,but commonly range from $5 to $10.

The main thing to remember is to be organized and to keep an eye on your accounts. You are the first line of defense when it comes to your credit report and accounts and will most likely be the first person to notice that something is incorrect.