Credit reporting agency--Equifax--disclosed a massive breach that has ruffled the feathers of the IT world. The attacks exposed sensitive information including Social Security Numbers of 143 million customers. Although the biggest breach record is still held by Yahoo which jeopardized information of 1 billion customers, the impact of Equifax attack could exceed by many folds.
Equifax is offering a string of services for free to people, including credit monitoring. According to the company, the breach occurred mid-May through June and was discovered by July 29. The time lag from the occurrence to detection would be at a disadvantage when the company investigates the cyberattack.
What’s alarming is the fact that 143 million breached customers account for about 43% of the US population. The situation transforms into a colossal predicament when you exclude children and students who don’t have credit histories. That means well more than half of all US residents who rely the most on bank loans and credit cards are now at a significantly higher risk of fraud and will remain so for years to come.
Thus, it is quintessential that you know how to protect yourself from the breach. Because there’s a high possibility that some of you are impacted. You should take great care and always vigilant henceforth in monitoring all your financial data.Here are four simple steps to protect yourself from the Equifax data breach.
1. Find if you’re affected by the breach
Equifax has created a website that lets consumers check if they’re affected by the breach. When you visit the website, click on the tab labeled Potential Impact in the center of the webpage. All you need is your full name and Social Security number.
2. Sign up for credit monitoring
If you’re impacted, you’d need to be extra vigilant in monitoring your credit. Consequently, Equifax is offering free credit monitoring services. Even though you’re not affected by the cyberattack, it’s highly recommended to avail the services. You can choose among different services and see to it that your credit monitored promptly.
3. Enable free fraud alert on your credit report
This is one of the free services that most of the credit agencies provide. You need to enable fraud alert for the agencies to send you a notification of a suspicious transaction that you didn’t initiate. Merely signing up a form will bring you peace of mind against frauds--which are fairly common these days.
4. Use strong, complex passwords
Now that the breach has occurred, it’s important to change your passwords immediately. When you choose a new password, make sure it contains uppercase, lowercase, a special character, and numbers. Data suggests that between 35% and 65% use the same password at multiple sites. So, if you’re one of them, please change the passwords of other accounts as well--but this time set a strong, unique password.
With these simple steps, you can mitigate the risks that could potentially impact you in the future as a result. Don’t be a victim of identity theft, take charge and protect yourself.