Are you affected by the Equifax hack?

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When the news broke about the massive Equifax hack, many people didn’t think much about it. But even if you have never used Equifax to check your credit score, the credit reporting agency could still have leaked your personal information, Painesville Credit Union CEO Lori Guzzi said.
“It has been reported that 143 million people could be affected by this massive data breach,” she said. “Names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers – there is a lot of personal information out there for hackers to steal.”
Equifax is one of three nationwide credit-reporting companies. Equifax doesn’t need you to get to your data, as credit card companies, retailers, banks, and lenders get use this service to issue or decline lines of credit and loans.
And the burden may be on you to find out if you have been affected by this hack, Guzzi said.
“Equifax isn’t necessarily contacting people who have been affected individually,” she said. “It is largely up to the consumer – that’s you and me – to double check our credit health, and then double check it again.”
Start by checking to see if your Social Security Number has been affected by visiting www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and click on the Check Potential Impact tab. Submit your last name and last six digits of your Social Security Number.
“Then you’ll be given a date when you can return to the site and sign up for the free credit monitoring service,” Guzzi said.
If you are included in the hack, Equifax will provide you with free credit monitoring service for one year, whether or not you’ve been affected financially.
Guzzi recommends people review account statements and credit reports to check for fraud.
“No one knows your finances like you do. In addition to credit monitoring, take the time to go over your accounts every month to check for anything suspicious or out of the ordinary,” she said. “You can also request a copy of your credit report online at www.annualcreditreport.com. Everyone gets a free copy of their credit report once a year from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.”
If you notice unauthorized activity on any of your accounts, including the creation of new accounts, call your bank, credit union or credit card company immediately, Guzzi said.
“You should also immediately report any fraud to the police,” she said.
A credit freeze – either long term or short term – can also protect you.
“A credit freeze takes your credit report off the market. If someone tries to open an account or take out a loan in your name, your report will be frozen and they can’t extend the credit,” Guzzi said. “A credit freeze can be short term or long term, and if you want to take out a loan, you can temporarily lift the freeze to do so. It means that the lender must contact you to verify your identity before any credit can be issued in your name.”
For more information, contact Equifax at 866-447-7559.

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