News of the Equifax data breach have scores of Americans worried about their credit, and for good reason. Sometime between May and July, the personal data of 143 million Americans was believed to be compromised by a hack on Equifax's system. This is a big deal. Not only are millions of people at risk of becoming victims to identity theft, but Equifax is one of the nation's three major credit reporting agencies. In times like this, it's vital to separate fact from fiction so that people maintain a clear perspective of the issue at hand. Read on for eight important myths and facts about the Equifax hack that you need to know now.
Equifax created an online tool that gives a good idea of whether your information was compromised. To check, go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. You'll be asked for your name and the last six digits of your social security number. You must also complete a process to confirm you are not an automated bot.
Equifax has pledged to contact people whose credit card numbers were compromised, and the credit agency is also offering one year of its TrustedID Premier credit monitoring service for free. However, Equifax has no public plans to keep tabs on all affected credit accounts for irregular activity.
Online security companies such as LifeLock and IDshield don't stop identity theft from happening. However, these services can alert you when irregular financial activity is happening in your name. These services offer regular credit reports and credit monitoring services, along with alerts when detecting unusual purchases, attempts to open new credit accounts and more. These services can also find out whether your information is available on the Dark Web.
Equifax keeps detailed information on American consumers, and everything was accessed by hackers. This information includes social security numbers, drivers license numbers, birth dates and more.
The online Equifax tool only says whether your information was likely stolen, but it is not a definitive answer.
The one-year free membership with Equifax's TrustedID credit monitoring service will not be extended into a paid subscription. In addition, consumers don't need to provide credit card information to sign up for this service.
There is no way to avoid Equifax having access to your information unless you stop using banks and credit cards. It is too large of a credit reporting agency that is too entrenched in our financial system.
Equifax faced harsh scrutiny when news of this hack first spread. As a result, the credit reporting agency took up the policy that "enrolling in the free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection products that we are offering as part of this cybersecurity incident does not prohibit consumers from taking legal action."