Here’s How to Check If You’re Affected by the Huge Equifax Hack
Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies that provide credit scores for millions of Americans, revealed Thursday that the sensitive personal information of as many as 143 million people was stolen in a massive cyberattack spanning April through July. The compromised info includes social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some cases, driver’s license info. Here’s what else you need to know before you start freaking out.
Considering the staggering number of people affected represents nearly half of the United States population, there’s a significant chance you’ve been impacted by the breach. On top of the pilfered personal info, the company said criminal hackers stole the full credit card numbers of 209,000 Americans as well as “limited personal information” citizens in the United Kingdom and Canada. The attack was discovered on July 29, and so far, Equifax says it’s working with authorities to complete its investigation into the incident.
"This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do,” Equifax Chairman and CEO Richard F. Smith said in a statement. “I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes."
Basically, all of this should posit some alarm for anyone with a line of credit. Equifax advises customers to visit equifaxsecurity2017.com to see if your details were swept up in the massive attack. However, you'll need to input the last six digits if your social security number and your last name to see if you've been affected, which might be disconcerting for obvious reasons. If you're one of the unlucky victims of the breach, you'll get an advisory like this:
In addition to the checker tool, Equifax is offering a free year of identity theft insurance and other credit monitoring services. But it turns out you may want to think twice about that, too. As a report by The Washington Post explains, signing up may risk giving up your legal rights to be involved in class-action cases against the company that come up in response to the breach, thanks to language about arbitration included in the terms and conditions.
Equifax allows you to opt-out of this catch, though, by notifying the company in writing within 30 days of using the site with your your name, address, Equifax User ID, and a “clear statement that You do not wish to resolve disputes with Equifax through arbitration,” per the report.
There are other options at your disposal, too: New York Magazine recommends signing up with another credit rating firm -- TransUnion or Experian -- to monitor your credit report for any unusual activity or inquiries. You should also keep a close eye on your credit card statements for at least the next several months, which is a good habit to have all the time.
You can always freeze your credit via the three main credit reporting agencies, which will prevent people from accessing your credit report. The Federal Trade Commission also offers the ability to activate a fraud alert for 90 days at a time for another line of defense against malicious attackers seeking your personal information, according to a report by The Huffington Post.
All said, be safe out there. Change your passwords, research identity theft insurance, and check all of your accounts as closely as you follow Instagram or a package you’re tracking. You know, a lot.