The Equifax data breach: Next steps

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We have been closely following the Equifax security breach, which has affected more than 143 million American consumers, and wanted to give you a quick primer on the information that we know. Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies, has been subjected to a security breach that lasted from mid-May through July. The cyberattack exposed sensitive information, including Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and more. We’ve compiled a list of immediate steps to take if you think you may have been affected by the breach, and how to keep information safe year-round:

  1. Check credit reports– The first step that you should take is checking your credit reports for free at annualcreditreport.com. Additionally, check the transactions on all of your financial accounts and credit history. Keep an eye out for activity that you do not recognize and report it immediately to your bank or credit agency.
  1. Consider a credit freeze – A credit freeze will make it difficult for someone to create new accounts in your name and will block most lenders from seeing your credit history. However, this will not prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts. Additionally, you can place a fraud alert on your files if you decide against a credit freeze. This notice placed on your credit report warns prospective lenders that you are a victim of identity theft.
  1. File your taxes early – In this situation, it is best to file your taxes early, before a scammer can. Tax identity theft occurs when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Once you receive your letters from the IRS, respond right away.

Cybersecurity breaches pose a threat to your personal information and it’s important to stay vigilant year-round. Update your passwords regularly and continuously check your account statements and bank/credit card activity for suspicious activity. For additional information and updates on the Equifax breach, please visit https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/.

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