Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting firms, announced on Thursday, September 7, 2017 that its computer systems had been breached. This had led to the unauthorized access of personal information, including Social Security numbers, of up to 143 million U.S. consumers. At this time, we do not know if any of our members have been impacted by this breach. We have not received any additional information from Equifax, however, we can point you in the right direction. Here are some resources that you can use to inform yourself and determine the next step:
Equifax has developed a website for people to check whether their data was affected. Visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to see if your personal information is potentially impacted.
How to Contact Equifax
Equifax has set up a call center to answer consumer questions and address concerns. You can contact them at 866.447.7559 from 4:00 AM to 1:00AM PDT, seven days a week.
Steps You Can Take
What is a Fraud Alert?
If your information was compromised, or if you’re concerned about becoming a victim of identity theft, you may want to consider placing a 90-day fraud alert or an extended credit freeze on your credit reports.
Fraud alerts are for people who are concerned about identity theft but may not have become a victim of fraud. Once a fraud alert is place on your credit report, a business that receives a credit application with your personal information (name, address, Social Security number, etc.) must verify your identity by contacting you before they can issue new credit. A fraud alert is free and lasts for 90 days, but you can renew the alert when it expires.
To place an initial fraud alert on your credit report:
- Contact one of the three credit bureaus listed below and request a fraud alert.
- The first credit bureau must contact the other two credit bureaus, and all three will place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
What is a Credit Freeze?
A credit freeze is for people who are at high risk of identity theft due to a data breach, or who have already become a victim of fraud. When you place a credit freeze on your credit reports, creditors will not be able to access your credit information – and since most creditors will not grant new credit without that information, they will not approve credit applications that use your personal information.
Unlike a fraud alert, credit bureaus are not required to share information when placing a credit freeze, so you will have to request a freeze from each individual credit bureaus. Also, bureaus may charge a fee to place or remove a credit freeze from your credit reports.
To place a freeze on your credit reports:
- Contact all three credit bureaus, either on each bureau’s website or by calling the credit freeze line for each bureau: Each bureau has a different type of credit freeze, and bureaus will not provide credit freeze information to the other two bureaus.
- Different states have different laws that determine how long a credit freeze will last and how much you can be charged to place and lift a freeze. Credit bureaus will provide instructions on how to get credit freeze information and costs for the state you live in.
A credit freeze can make it very difficult for anyone to use your personal information – including you. If you want to open a new account, apply for a job, rent an apartment, or buy insurance, you will need to ask all three credit bureaus to lift the credit freeze temporarily, either for a specific amount of time or for a specific person or business.
PLEASE BE AWARE that a fraud alert or credit freeze may prevent someone from opening new accounts in your name, but neither can prevent someone from using your personal information or account numbers to steal from existing accounts. To protect the accounts and credit cards you currently have, always review your monthly statements and your online account activity, and report suspicious transactions to financial institutions and credit card companies immediately.
For more information about how to shield yourself from identity theft and fraud, visit the Federal Trade Commission websites www.consumer.ftc.gov and www.identitytheft.gov.