By now, most of you have probably heard about the Equifax data breach. This hack has exposed the personal information of millions of U.S. consumers.
Once hackers have gained access to consumers’ personal information, there is a greater risk of identity theft and fraud. Being proactive is the best way to avoid potential fraud. First, find out if your information was exposed. Visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and click on the “Potential Impact” tab. You will need to enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number, so make sure you’re on a secure computer. Once you enter this information, you will get an instant response stating whether or not you may have been impacted.
If you were impacted, it is a good idea to sign up for identity theft protection. GNO Insurance Agency offers LifeLock identity theft protection and Equifax is offering one year of identity theft protection for free.
You may also want to consider freezing your credit report. A credit freeze allows you to seal your credit reports. You will receive a personal identification number (PIN) that you can use to “thaw” your credit when needed. Freezing your credit report isn’t an easy process, but it could give you peace of mind. The cost ranges from 3 to 10 dollars for each freeze. It is important to freeze your account with all three Credit Reporting Bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). If your reports are accessed often, a freeze is not recommended.
Here are a few tips:
- Be cautious when you receive unexpected emails, it is never a good idea to
click on links or attachments.
- If a website asks for any personal information make sure it is secure. Secure
websites have “https” at the beginning. The “s” denotes that it is secure.
- Watch carefully for spelling errors in emails. Scam emails usually contain
- If you receive a text from an unknown number, never respond. Hackers can
gain access to your phone this way
- File your Tax Return as early as possible. Criminals that have gained access
to your Social Security number can file a tax return in your name. Don’t give
them an open window to fraudulently receive your refund.