At One Millennial World, I am adamant that I will never write content influenced by or paid for by an advertiser. To support my work, I might make money from some links to companies and deals on this site. Learn more about my guarantee here.
Following the massive Equifax data breach that has potentially exposed the personal information of 143 million Americans, I am strongly urging everyone immediately freeze their credit right now!
Credit freezes are one of the most effective ways for consumers to protect themselves against identity theft.
The Equifax Catastrophe!
Here are the facts so far:
The security breach at Equifax lasted from mid-May through July. The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, home addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people. And they also grabbed personal information of people in the UK and Canada.
At first, Equifax offered 1-year of free credit monitoring. But, that’s just not enough!
This data breach is so severe that the criminals will be able to use the information they’ve obtained next year, five years from now and beyond, so one-year of monitoring and protection just isn’t enough.
If your information like your social security number has been compromised then you have to assume that it is out there…forever!
Equifax is now temporarily dropping their credit freeze fees.
Equifax has confirmed that they will waive the fees for placing and removing security freezes for at least for the next 30 days.
Here’s the Steps you Need to Take To Protect Yourself!
Step One: Check Your Credit Reports.
Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for free — by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
You can do this online, by phone or by certified mail. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making unauthorized charges to your existing accounts.
***When you do a credit freeze, it is imperative that you freeze your credit with all three credit bureaus.***
The cost to place a freeze ranges from about $3 to $10 per person per bureau to freeze a credit report. It also depends on which state you reside in. A couple of states have higher fees. But, Equifax is dropping their fees for the next 30 days!
(Note: I live in Colorado, and I placed freezes on all 3 for FREE this week! It was simple and took less than 15 mins.)
Step Three: Closely Monitor All Your Existing Credit Cards and Bank Accounts.
Step Four: Consider Placing Fraud Alerts if you don’t implement a freeze. If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing fraud alerts on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
Truthfully, this is a joke. Just go for the full credit freeze. It’s the best protection for you right now!
Step Five: File your taxes early.
File your taxes as soon as you have all the tax information you need. File before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. And, respond right away to letters from the IRS.