It’s been hard to escape the news of the Equifax breach. Even though it happened starting in May 2017 we’re only just hearing about it. In my opinion, and others’, the company’s response to this breach has been far from stellar. Huffington Post reports:
The Federal Trade Commission announced it is investigating the Equifax incident, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking into the company’s response to the breach. Members of the House Judiciary, Financial Services, and Energy and Commerce committees have all called for hearings on the matter. And politicians on both sides of the aisle have demanded an explanation.
Ron Lieber of the New York Times brings us up-to-date in “Finally, Some Answers From Equifax to Your Data Breach Questions“.
My family’s information may or may not have been exposed. People have entered random names and numbers in Equifax’s security freeze website and most everyone gets the message that they may have been impacted. So what to do?
Here is what I’ve decided for my family:
- I pulled our free annual credit reports using AnnualCreditReport.com. In light of the breach I examined all three but starting next year I will do a better job of pulling them on a staggered basis (spring, summer and fall) so I can freely monitor our credit throughout the year.
- There is actually a fourth credit reporting agency, Innovis.
- I added a fraud alert through Experian. This alert will last for 90 days so I set a reminder to renew it when it expires. Here is the message from Experian (emphasis mine):
A temporary fraud alert has been successfully added to your credit report. This alert is scheduled to remain on your credit report until 12/14/2017. Print this information for your records.
As an additional precaution, we have removed your name and address from prescreened offer mailing lists for two years. As a convenience to you and to further protect your credit information, we shared your request with the other nationwide consumer credit reporting companies, Equifax and TransUnion, and you should receive confirmation directly from them.
For more information on fraud alerts and how you can protect yourself, please visit experian.com/fraud.
To view state specific rights that might pertain to you, visit www.experian.com/consumer/help/report/fcra.html.
- Huffington Post made some good points in Here’s Why You Probably Don’t Want to Freeze Your Credit so I decided against freezing our accounts. Still, there are pros to a credit freeze that some might find helpful, as Nasdaq explains in Is Your Best Response to Equifax a Credit Freeze or a Fraud Alert?
- As an extra precaution I visited OptOutPrescreen and opted out from receiving offers of credit or insurance through the mail for five years. I also did this for my college-aged sons.
- I will continue to monitor our checking account and credit card activity and remain hyper-alert to any suspicious-looking emails or suspicious-sounding phone calls.
- I chose not to enroll in the credit monitoring service that Equifax is providing free for a year. It is their own monitoring service and since they are the reason we’re in this mess…. I did decide to enroll in IdentityForce after reading some reviews including this one and this one. I don’t know if this is necessary given all the other things I did and will do but I figured it would not hurt and I can research this service for our clients and blog readers. I will report on my experience in a future blog post.
Let’s be careful out there! (Or are you too young to remember that line?) Do let us know if we can be of service.
UPDATE as of 9/26/17:
- Equifax CEO ‘retires’ after massive data breach
- Why the Equifax Breach Stings so Bad
- Perspective | Why didn’t Equifax protect your data?
- All the Ways Equifax Epically Bungled Its Breach Response