Worried About the Equifax Breach? Here Are Some Tips
After the massive Equifax data breach, you might want to take proactive measures to check your credit history and prevent your identity from being stolen. Equifax’s measures to protect consumers in the aftermath of the breach have rightly been criticized, from setting up a site that asked for even more sensitive personal information, to sending consumers to an erroneous website, to charging them money to put a credit freeze on their accounts.
Given the enormous size of the theft, many people will not be affected. But for those who are affected, the consequences could be severe. While it is unlikely that your data has already been used, it is still possible. Now that Equifax has agreed to waive the usual fee it charges for credit freezes, it might be a good idea to look into it, assuming that some of Equifax’s early stumbles have been overcome.
There’s no worse feeling than finding out that your identity has been stolen and that someone has been using your good credit to take out thousands of dollars in loans that they never intend to pay back. For many victims of identity theft, it can take years of effort to finally clear their names. That’s why it’s well worth being proactive in protecting your credit. It’s not just a one-time effort either, it may be months before criminals decide to take advantage of your data, so you need to remain alert. If you notice a sudden drop in your credit score or see new accounts opened in your name, then it’s definitely time to take action.
The Equifax breach is also a reason to file your taxes early next year. The incidences of scammers filing fraudulent tax returns in other people’s names in order to claim their returns have been increasing in recent years, and now all this personal data flooding illicit markets makes fraudulent returns that much easier. If you expect to get a refund next year, make sure that you get it, not some criminal.