Has your personal information been the subject of a data breach? Data breaches are becoming more common. Do you know what to do if your information is stolen?
What to do
OK, so we all know about the Equifax data breach, now. Hackers got into the database at Equifax, and stole the personal identifier information for 143 million Americans. They got name, address, social security number, date of birth, and other information, including drivers license number.
But the question is what do you do about it?
Determine if your data was stolen.
First - determine if you are in the group of Americans who's information was stolen.
OK, easy. EVERYONE. Yes, you. No point in checking on the website, you were breached. If this is not the Equifax breach, you would get a notice of some sort. But in any event, assume your data was stolen.
Do NOT sign up for their credit monitoring service.
Second- DO NOT sign up for the credit monitoring offered by the provider through their "Trusted partner". Wait. What? "TRUSTED" partner? We trust them to not do something bad after they just did something bad? OK.
What if you still want to trust them? When you sign up, there is an arbitration clause. Why is that important? Because you cannot have a jury trial. You are at the mercy of an arbitrator, who is not a judge.
What SHOULD you do? Order a credit report from all 3 credit bureaus.
ORDER YOUR CREDIT FILES FROM THE CREDIT BUREAUS. You are entitled to a free copy every year. You can order on the phone, 877-322-8228, in writing, or on the internet. Whatever you do, KEEP A COPY. If you order on the phone or mail, they mail a hard copy to you. Put it in a file. If you order on the internet, download a copy of the file. KEEP IT. That is important information as time goes on, about what is there. Of course, you should read it now, to see what is there, and review for inaccurate information, because that should be something you should do every year, anyway.
Request a 90 day fraud alert and follow up with a request for an extended fraud alert.
Just a call away. Call and tell them you want the 90 day fraud alert.
Follow up with a request for an EXTENDED Fraud Alert. With each, you will need to send a number of documents, including proof of your social security number, and proof of your address, including your drivers license or certain other documents, including a copy of a police report, or other proof that your identity has been not just stolen, but used. I would think that with the breach, that a copy of the news report of the data breach would probably work, but I am not sure.
To Freeze or NOT to Freeze, that is the question.
You can also do a security freeze. The Federal Trade Commission has done a nice job on Security Freeze, and you can read their explanation here http://bit.ly/2bnWHOs . You can also request a security freeze in writing by writing to Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Please note that there is a fee for a security freeze, typically about $10, and there is a fee for unfreezing, again, typically about $10.
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