On Thursday, credit reporting firm
reported that hackers had gained access to personal identifying information from mid-May through July. Potentially impacting 143 million U.S. consumers, this is now the
largest breach ever recorded
involving this type of sensitive data (social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, credit card, phone and driver's licenses numbers). With this stolen treasure, thieves can acquire bank accounts, credit cards, tax refunds, prescription drugs, and even drivers' licenses in your name. And they can use this information for many years to come, so don't feel safe with that free year of credit monitoring that Equifax is offering!
If you haven't already, it's time to TAKE ACTION to protect yourself! (Here is a recent NY Times article on
What to Do Now
.) We recommend placing a
on each of your accounts with the 3 major credit reporting bureaus. You can do this online or by phone, and it's free in Colorado. With this freeze, no new credit will be granted in your name because your credit report cannot be retrieved. You will receive a PIN (or generate one yourself) so that you can lift the freeze when you need to apply for new credit (there is a small fee to lift). The freeze will not affect your credit score or your ability to access your credit reports.
More Steps to Protect Your Identity:
- Monitor your existing bank accounts and credit cards closely!
- Beware of other scammers trying to exploit this breach to get you to click on links or share personal information.
- Don't use public computers or Wi-Fi when entering sensitive information online.
- Request your free annual credit reports by visiting annualcreditreport.com. You can get a report from each agency, so you can check it every 4 months for free.
- Set up a free fraud alert at one agency and they will have to notify the other two. Unless you have already been a victim and have an ID Theft Report, you will have to renew the fraud alert every 90 days.
- Use super strong passwords, a password manager, and two-factor authentication for your email and other accounts.
- File your tax return as early as possible.