How To Respond To The Equifax Data Breach
You have undoubtedly heard of the data breach at Equifax. You might be one of 143 million people whose credit data and personal identifying information are now in the hands of criminals.
Unfortunately, that data includes “evergreen” data – social security numbers, dates of birth, maiden names – which will have perpetual value to fraudsters. Credit card numbers change, but your social security number doesn’t.
As a safeguard, we recommend that you initiate credit freezes with the credit bureaus listed below. There may be a charge for this, but it can give you piece of mind to prevent an identity thief from taking out loans and credit cards in your name.
Equifax has a website and call center to let you know if your data “may” have been compromised. Given the epic proportions of this data breach, however, it is prudent to assume your data has been released to thieves.
It is our recommendation that you put a freeze on your credit report with each of the main credit bureaus to prevent the unauthorized opening of accounts. Executing a freeze with one credit bureau will NOT automatically update the others. You can easily unfreeze your credit report when needed. Contact the credit bureaus using this contact information for freezes:
For your reference, we have attached a brochure from Charles Schwab & Co., “How to Respond to a Data Breach.” It outlines ways of guarding against and responding to other forms of identity theft, including diversion of social security benefits and tax refunds.
We are attempting to be prudent without being alarmist. Even if you are not among the 143 million whose records have been stolen, establishing a credit freeze may be the “stitch in time that saves nine” as we are feeling the downside the Information Age.