Equifax data breach

When keeping your fingers crossed and hoping won’t do – photo credit “Security” by John Loo

If you’ve ever borrowed money in the United States, there’s a fair chance that EquiFax have some information about you. There’s also a good chance that you’re one of the 145 million people affected by their recent data breach.

What EquiFax data was stolen and how does it affect me?

Essentially, all that data that you would like to keep private may now not be:

  • Names
  • Social Security numbers
  • Addresses
  • Birth dates
  • Driver’s license numbers ( for some)
  • Credit card numbers (estimated 209,000 people)
  • Documents with personally identifying information (estimated 182,000 people)

Data compromised in the EquiFax breach could impact any form of credit taken out in the U.S. – mortgages, car loans and credit cards. This could impact you in the following ways:

  1. Villains could set up new credit accounts in your name
  2. Your credit card could be used fraudulently
  3. There could be a plague of locusts. Not really, but this data breach is epic in proportions

Three actions to take now

EquiFax have been struggling to respond to the concerns of its customers, so you might not just want to follow the advice to “contact them with your social security number”. Here are three things you can do right now to protect yourself.

See if you’re affected

Equifax’s website has a section where you can determine if you were one of the people whose data was shared. Go to https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/am-i-impacted/ (is anyone else worried that the 2017 in the URL means they’re expecting this to happen in different years!?). With your name and social security number, you’ll get an indication of if you are affected.

Freeze your credit file

If you freeze your credit file at the three credit bureaus, then it will be harder for crooks to use your leaked data to create new accounts in your name. Here are three phone numbers to do that:

Equifax 1-800-685-1111
Experian 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion 1-888-909-8872

Expect the phone service to give you a PIN number that you can use to thaw out your credit file – keep that safe. Also expect the support staff to be overwhelmed and under-resourced.

Monitor Your Credit

You can request a free credit report once per year from the three agencies. If you don’t want to spend money on a monitoring service (do you trust the people who’ve lost your data to monitor your data?), you can check once with each bureau throughout the year.

We find www.AnnualCreditReport.com is a pretty simple way to do this.

Equifax are offering a free freeze until next year.

One action to take later

Pay special attention around tax season in April. This is when your Social Security number is more likely to be stolen for a refund.

If you are looking for a mortgage loan officer who can explain the implications of this on your upcoming Austin property transaction, get in touch with our team of REALTORs.


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