One of the largest data breaches in history has compromised the personal data of 143 million people. Equifax, a major credit bureau, lost control of customer data that included social security numbers, home addresses, credit card numbers, drivers’ license numbers and date of births. The company estimates roughly half of the U.S. population has been affected by the breach, and this sensitive data could have been exposed to hackers.
Equifax will not specifically tell you if you are a victim, but we have a guide for you and a quick recap of what you may have missed post Hurricane Irma.
The data breach could have started as early as May 2017, which means the data could have been exposed for more than three months. It is unclear what the hackers may have done with the data during those months.
Here is what you can do to protect yourself:
Check your credit reports. When looking through your reports, keep an eye out for any new accounts you did not open, late payments on debts you do not recognize and any other suspicious activity. You are guaranteed a free annual credit report from the three major bureaus. Click HERE to download your free credit report. You will not be held responsible for charges made on a fraudulent credit card. However, this must be reported in a timely manner.
Freeze your credit. Even if your credit comes back clean it is still early and one of the most reliable ways to prevent someone from opening up credit cards in your name is to place what is called a “credit freeze.” You can contact each of the three credit bureaus by calling:
Set up a fraud alert. When you set up a fraud alert, credit card companies will be required to verify your identity before opening an account. To activate a fraud alert, contact just one of the credit card bureaus and ask for an initial fraud alert. When the alert is set, it will be in effect for 90 days.
Be mindful of tax season. Identity thieves can use stolen social security numbers to file fraudulent tax returns and receive refunds. Many victims find out they are a victim of tax fraud after the IRS tells them their taxes have already been filed. One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is to file early.
If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.
Related Resources: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/your-guide-to-surviving-equifax-data-breach/