As you may have heard, Equifax, one of the nation’s three leading credit reporting agencies, announced last week that they had a major data breach from May through July.
The hackers accessed over 143 million consumers’ information, including Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses. For some consumers, they also stole driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers.
Due to the scope of this data breach and after reviewing the options available to protect your information, we recommend PLACING A CREDIT FREEZE ON YOUR FILES.
Please also consider doing these steps for all family members, such as elderly parents and children.
WHAT IS A CREDIT FREEZE & HOW TO DO IT:
A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report, which makes it more difficult for thieves to open new accounts in your name. You can lift the freeze temporarily on your account if you are applying for credit in the future. You MUST keep track of your unique PIN/password to lift a freeze.
Please visit the FTC’s page on Credit Freezes to understand fully how they work: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs
STEPS TO TAKE:
To place a freeze on your credit reports, you need to contact each of the nationwide credit reporting companies:
Equifax — 1-800-349-9960
Experian — 1‑888‑397‑3742
TransUnion — 1-888-909-8872
You'll need to supply your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information. Fees vary based on where you live, but commonly range from $5 to $10.
Make sure you are entering this info on a secure computer and encrypted network connection (no Wi-Fi Hot Spots!).
After receiving your freeze request, each credit reporting company will send you a unique PIN (personal identification number) or password. Keep the PIN or password in a safe place. You will need it if you choose to lift the freeze.
You can lift a freeze permanently or temporarily (as an example: for a specific lender who you've applied for a loan with).