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How to Navigate the Equifax Hack

If you’re among the 143 million people who may have been compromised by the Equifax hack, you may be wondering what steps you can take to protect yourself in what is now the greatest data breach in history. Below are steps to take to see if you’ve been affected and what you can do to move forward with the (hopefully) least financial impact to you and your credit.

  • Go to https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/ and follow the instructions to see if your data may have been part of the compromise. If so, you’re allowed to sign up for free identity theft protection and monitoring for up to one year. Even if you’re one of the lucky ones whose data hasn’t been compromised, you’re still allowed to sign up for the service.
  • Check your credit reports. Go to annualcreditreport.com and request your free credit report from the three major bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Regardless of the recent hack, you’re allowed (and should) do this annually to monitor your credit and the information being supplied to the bureaus. Additionally, it allows you to see if unauthorized credit inquiries are being made on your credit.
  • Consider a credit freeze. Freezing your credit (often for a fee) locks your credit at each bureau and requires a unique PIN in order to gain access to your file.
  • How to place a credit freeze. According to the Federal Trade Commission, to place a credit freeze you will need to go to the three bureaus and give your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, along with some other information as directed. You may also be required to pay a small fee for implementation.
  • Direct links to the bureaus and their respective freeze pages can be found by accessing:
  • Consider signing up for identity theft protection through your home insurance carrier. Generally, for a small annual additional charge, you can have this coverage added which will help pay for the costs of fixing an identity theft should it happen to you.
  • Visit the three bureaus and see what additional information or free services they offer.

Equifax – https://www.equifax.com/personal/

TransUnion – https://www.transunion.com/

Experian – http://www.experian.com/

  • Set up a fraud alert. Contact the three bureaus above and request a fraud alert be put on your account. These last for 90 days but can be renewed.
  • Keep an eye on your tax return. Do your best to file early for your 2017 taxes. Once you get all of your information, try to file your taxes as soon as you can to avoid having a fraudulent return filed on your behalf.
  • Try to relax. As one of the individuals who may have been affected, I keep telling myself that there’s only so much I can do, and this too, shall pass. It’s easier said than done, but at the very least, you can do the best you can to be proactive moving forward.

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