Unfortunately, the recent Equifax data breach affected almost any American who has ever used credit; so that probably includes you and me. After a little bit of research and thought this weekend, here are some of my suggestions:
1. Don’t Panic. Since I never watch television news media, I don’t know but can only assume all of the networks are worked up in a frenzy over this. They are probably putting on camera people who have had their lives destroyed by identity theft. These are terrible stories, but extremely rare. I have personally been the victim of fraudulent checks, had my credit card number stolen, and even once someone in France withdrew money from my checking account at an ATM machine. In all instances, my losses were covered by my bank. The claims process was a pain, but a fraction of the financial inconvenience of tax season.
2. Go to the Equifax Special Website. Equifax has set up a special website and you need to go to it, check and see if you have been affected, and sign up for one year of free credit monitoring. The website address is: http://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. Go to the very bottom of the page and click on “Potential Impact”, then on the next page click on “Check Potential Impact”. Enter your last name, the last 6 digits of your Social Security number, and click “Continue”. With this information, they will confirm you have been impacted. Click on “Enroll”.
Here’s the tricky part. Once you click enroll, a date will appear. For me, it was the 13th of September. A window of time will open on your enrollment date. On or after that date, you have to return to the website and click “Enroll” at the bottom of the page. You’ll have to remember to return to the website on your own. Equifax is not going to remind you, and the window closes November 21st.
3. Regularly Review your Accounts. Every month, review your credit card and bank statements for irregular activity. I even peek at my accounts almost daily online, just to make sure I have a handle on things. If you see something weird, check into it. If the charge turns out to not be be yours, the bank will credit your account.
I hope this information helps. Please feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions.
Have a great week!