The Equifax Breach – What you need to know and do!
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You may have heard about the Equifax Data Breach that occurred from May – July, but was just announced this past week. The gist is that 143 million people had their name, social security number, credit file documents (in some cases), birth dates, addresses, and even driver’s license numbers stolen.
It’s scary stuff.
I don’t want you to panic or freak out and yet you shouldn’t just ignore this or tell yourself you’re “not going to worry about it” either!
You can find out if you were one of the chosen ones by going to this website created by Equifax in response to the breach, but first, please continue reading…
1. Since you’ll need to type in a portion of your security number to check if you were affected, please make sure you do so from a secure computer. If you care for your parents, please consider these steps for them… elderly folks are targets!
2. Whether or not you are one of the 143 million who had your data stolen (I was!) you have the option of signing up for complimentary identity theft through Equifax’s website above. You may have heard that by doing so you waive your right to sue and are forced into arbitration. However, the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said this is “unacceptable and unenforceable.” Equifax has since updated their website to agree, making this no longer the case. However, the service is only free for one year and then auto renews for a fee so keep that in mind and check out some other options below! 
At this point,
Your 1st goal is to make it really hard for the thief to open any accounts under your name and file.
Your 2nd goal is to catch it right away if it does happen. 
The suggestions below are provided to help you achieve those goals!
1. If you have a credit card, check with them to see if they offer credit monitoring or identity theft protection for free already. Some of them do (American Express, Discover, etc) so it may just be something you need to opt into. CreditKarma also offers free credit monitoring if you have a free account with them. Other options include Costco, WalletHub, Mint, and CreditSesame. 
2. Consider placing a credit freeze on your credit file. What is a credit freeze? 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 charges to your existing accounts. This could be a good option if you’re not needing credit for anything soon. There is a small fee for placing a credit freeze as well as to unfreeze it later and the freeze must be placed on all three bureaus.
(This is the option Michael and I will be doing!)
3. Check your credit reports for free from each of the three agencies by going to annualcreditreport.com. Save these so you have a “before” reference.
4. Check your bank statements and credit card activity diligently for any charges you did not authorize.
(PS: You should be doing this anyway!)
5. If you don’t like the idea of doing the credit freeze, consider a fraud alert. What is a fraud alert? This requires further documentation or proof of identity when trying to open any new credit. This is good for 90 days initially. This is free and only needs to be done to one credit agency because they will be required to report it to the other two.
6. File your taxes early. Like as soon as you get them and try not to delay! The sooner you file, the less likely someone will be able to file under your social security number! 
I hope this list of options and tasks helps to answer questions and give you some ideas for overcoming this breach and staying in front of it if possible!

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