The Equifax breach is ridiculous, isn’t it? If you’re not worried, you should be. Here are a few reasons why.
- First, Equifax’s system for checking who has been affected is highly flawed. My husband’s cousin used the last name “Equifaxstinks” and 654321 as the last six digits of a Social Security number, yet she still received a notification that she was affected–and she’s not the only one who tried such tactics. Worse, why should you have to enter your Social Security number to verify whether you were affected anyway?!
- Second, Equifax is “giving away” a free year of credit monitoring, but do you really trust Equifax to protect your information given it was insecure enough to allow for the hacking of 143 million consumers? Surely not!
- Third, Equifax was initially trying to tie arbitration clauses and waivers of rights to sue to its free year of credit monitoring. They claim they have dropped these waivers, but do you trust them?
- Fourth, a year of credit monitoring is completely insufficient when compared to the breach. The hackers gained access to names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and other incredibly sensitive information–information that doesn’t really change. While a stolen account number is a bad thing, the account can be closed and another reopened with just a bit of inconvenience. You can never change your Social Security number, and the hackers could now have it for the rest of your life. They can try opening accounts in your name, filing tax returns in your name, even getting “free” surgeries in your name . . . for the rest of your life.
- Finally, even if you’ve never actually purchased anything from Equifax, you are likely affected.
This is the worst breach ever according to Dave Ramsey. Or as he so aptly put it, “The bad news is Equifax sucks.”
Yes, Equifax just made everyone’s lives significantly more difficult. So my challenges for the next few days or so are going to focus on trying to minimize the fallout.
Before you get started, I want to say this: I have Zander’s identity theft insurance and have had it for years. The cost is minimal (or it has been!) and worth it. Look into buying it. Today. I’ll write a review of it this weekend.
Other than buying identity theft insurance, one of the first tasks you should do is obtain your credit report.
The goal is to obtain your credit report and review it carefully and thoroughly.
What I Did
To begin with, I updated my computer and scanned it for viruses and malware. (Better safe than sorry, right?) Then I accessed, saved, and printed my Transunion credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com. Why Transunion? I stagger my reports, one every four months, so that I get free reports throughout the year: one in January, one in May, and one in September.
- Run all the updates on your computer. If you don’t know how to update your computer, it’s time to learn. Updates are a hassle, but they keep your computer secure. In Microsoft Windows, press the Windows key between your control and function keys and your alt key on your keyboard. Then type “Windows Update.” Click on Windows Update or “Check for updates.” Then install the updates. Restart your computer if you need to.
- Use your antivirus software to scan for viruses. Make sure you update your definitions before you conduct your scan!
- Visit AnnualCreditReport.com and click on the red “Request your free credit reports” button on the left-hand side of the screen.
- Click the “Request your free credit reports” button on the next page.
- Check the connection to ensure it is encrypted. (You should do this whenever you enter sensitive information!)
- Enter your information. Then click “Next.”
- Order at least one of your credit reports. I order my Equifax report in January, my Experian report in May, and my Transunion report in September. (I go forward through the year in alphabetical order.)
- Download your report for future reference. Then print it.
- Review your printed report with your credit card, mortgage, and loan statements.
- If you see anything questionable–an account you thought was closed but isn’t, an account you don’t think you opened, or amounts that are incorrect–make a note, and inquire about the discrepancy immediately. Prepare to dispute it–you may even have to file a police report depending on what the discrepancy is.
- Make a note on your calendar to check your credit report again in four months.
How Did You Do?
When was the last time you accessed your credit report? Do you check yours regularly? Did you find any problems on yours today? Let me know in the comments!