More than 143 million people were affected by the massive breach announced earlier this month by Equifax, one of the largest consumer credit reporting agencies in the United States. Names, addresses, birth dates, and Social Security numbers for half of the people in our country are potentially up for grabs tocriminals all around the world.
THIS IS REALLY SERIOUS, and as a leader of the Senate’s primary committee for oversight and accountability, my staff and I are working to get answers from Equifax and find solutions that will keep consumers safe in the future. Last week I called on the Department of Justice and other federal agencies to investigate senior executives at Equifax who sold more than $2 million in securities after learning about the breach, but before disclosing it to the public. I also reintroduced a bill that would provide new legal resources for consumers when it comes to managing and protecting their credit.
But there are things that you can do today to make sure that criminals can’t take advantage of you and your loved ones, and I need your help getting the word out.
PLEASE SHARE THIS POST with anyone you know who may need to protect themselves from the effects of this hack.
- To see if your information may have been caught up in the breach, visit: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com
You may have seen in the news that using this website, or taking advantage of Equifax’s free credit monitoring services, would result in you losing your rights to sue Equifax at a later date. THIS IS NO LONGER THE CASE. According to Equifax’s website, using the site or enrolling in the free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection products offered as part of this breach does not prohibit you from taking legal action against Equifax, should you choose to do so.
- Change your passwords with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion: If you have existing online accounts with Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion, change your passwords immediately. Changing your passwords regularly will help prevent hackers from accessing your accounts in the future.
- Get your free, annual credit report and check for any signs of fraud:
Under the law, you are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major consumer credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once a year. Once you have your reports, you’ll want to look for: accounts you didn’t open, incorrect personal information, credit inquiries from companies you’ve never contacted, missing money or wrong amounts related to your credit, etc. If you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, go to IdentityTheft.gov to file a report and get a recovery plan.
- Consider freezing your credit TODAY:
By placing a freeze on your credit reports, you’ll prevent someone from opening new lines of credit or checking your credit score, if even they have all your personal information. You can place a freeze online at any time, but you’ll need to visit each of the three national credit reporting agencies’ websites:
Click here to manage a security freeze with Equifax
Click here to manage a security freeze with Experian
Click here to manage a security freeze with TransUnion
Learn more about security freezes from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The costs to place a security freeze vary state-by-state. In Missouri, it costs $5 per reporting agency to freeze your credit (or $15 total to freeze Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), and an additional $5 per reporting agency if you want to temporarily lift the freeze in the future (a step you would need to take in order to apply for a new credit card, purchase a car, apply for an apartment, etc.). It does not cost anything to permanently lift your security freeze.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit:
Unlike a security freeze, you only need to contact one of the credit reporting agencies to set up a fraud alert on your credit — that agency is then required by law to contact the other two. While it doesn’t lock down your credit like a freeze does, a fraud alert does require credit agencies to take additional steps to confirm it’s actually you opening credit in your name. You must renew a fraud alert every 90 days to keep it active.
Set-up a fraud alert with Equifax
Set-up a fraud alert with Experian
Set-up a fraud alert with TransUnion
Learn more about fraud alerts from the Federal Trade Commission.
As I get more information about how this data breach may have impacted Missourians, I will let you know ASAP.
In the meantime, please help me spread the word about steps your loved ones can take to protect themselves by sharing this post today.