The Equifax breach that took place this month was reported the largest and most potentially damaging data breaches ever. Credit companies feared this exact type of incident, and the outcome is yet to be determined since it’s too early to say.
About 143 million consumers personal information was stolen including: social security numbers, addresses, and credit card numbers. Officials say that this breach could affect ½ of the adult population. Repercussions could affect those trying to get a new credit card, running a security check for a new job, and those trying to get a mortgage.
This breach will cause problems when and if the “bad guys” try to sell the information or try to use it to rack up debt. The damage could make it difficult to qualify for a mortgage or refinance an existing one.
What you can do to protect yourself:
There is only one thing you can do to protect yourself and your finances right now.
Check to see that you were affected by the Equifax breach online. They will let you know whether or not you “may have been affected” and eventually send you a confirmation email to go through the online process to officially confirm if your information was stolen. They are offering complimentary enrollment for credit fraud protection and refunds to those who information was stolen during the breach. Mortgage and credit card experts say that you should contact each of the big credit-reporting companies immediately to freeze your credit while you wait. You can that online or by calling them:
There is no negative effect of freezing your credit. All it does is inhibits any loan companies or credit card companies from accessing your credit score. You can still use your existing credit cards and loans you already have. You can freeze and unfreeze the account at any point through a pin provided by the company by paying a very small fee (in California: $10 for non-victim, $5 for 65 and older, free for victims).
If you don’t freeze your account, continue to monitor your credit, emails, and phone calls. If you get any strange or unsettling email/calls, or your credit score is suddenly changing more than usual, contact Equifax or one of the credit companies above.
For more information about the breach, the effect it could have on you, or how to protect yourself, visit: https://www.realtor.com/news/trends/equifax-breach/?iid=rdc_news_hp_carousel_theLatest