Facts About the Equifax Data Breach
Equifax Data Breach
Equifax, one of the three largest credit reporting bureaus, recently identified a data breach potentially impacting more than 140 million U.S. consumers. The incident transpired from mid-May through July of this year.
Here are some important facts you should know to protect yourself.
What Information Was Compromised?
The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and in some instances, driver’s license numbers.
What Can Hackers Do With My Information?
Once identity thieves have your personal information, they may attempt to access your bank accounts or open a new credit or utility account.
What Can I Do About the Equifax Compromise?
Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Equifax provides an automated, secure line (1-800-349-9960) for consumers to freeze their credit report with the agency. The file freeze is immediate. You can also freeze credit files with Experian (1-888-397-3742) and Trans Union (1-888-909-8872)
According to the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, Maine’s file freeze law permits free freezing and unfreezing of credit reports. Maine consumers have the right to place a free file freeze on their credit reports with each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.
You should also monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize, utilizing financial statements or online banking.
What Can I Do to Help Protect Myself?
To help protect yourself now and with any potential compromise in the future, we suggest considering the following:
- Monitor and review your account activity regularly using financial statements or online banking
- Routinely change your passwords for your computer, bank, and other accounts. Be creative and use strong passwords – think of a special phrase and use the first letter of each word, substituting numbers and characters for some letters.
- Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion for free by visiting annualcreditreport.com.
- Contact us and request an extra security question or PIN that we can ask you prior to giving out any account information.
- Don’t open files, click on links, or download programs sent from an unexpected source. Opening a file from someone you don’t know could expose your system to a computer virus or spyware that captures your passwords or other information you type.
What Are Some Possible Clues Someone Has Stolen My Information?
- You may not get your bills or other mail.
- You may see withdrawals from your account that you can’t explain.
- Merchants may refuse your checks/you may receive unexpected overdrafts.
- Debt collectors may contact you about debts that aren’t yours.
- You may find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.