The recent Equifax information breach is the worst of it’s kind in history. Ramifications may affect consumers for the next 20 years, according to representatives from the office of the Attorney General (WA). Below, see some important information from the CFPB on how to protect yourself and your family from credit fraud in the wake of the breach:
Place security freezes
Currently, there is no charge to place a security freeze with Equifax. The fee waiver will end 11/21/2017, so if you would like to place a free credit freeze, you might consider doing so now. If you freeze your account, be sure to print the one-time .pdf for your pin number so you can lift the freeze later.
According to the AG’s office, it does no good to freeze one reporting bureau and not the other two, but there are fees to freeze Experian and Transunion reports (about $10.95 each). You will also need to pay to lift the freeze later. It is advised to order copies of your credit report from all three bureaus prior to freezing your accounts.
Contacts for each reporting bureau:
- Equifax: Place, Temporarily Lift or Permanently Remove a Security Freeze, (800) 685-1111
- Experian: Security Freeze, (888) 397-3742
- TransUnion: Manage a State Security Freeze Online, (800) 680-7289
What is a security freeze anyway?
A security freeze prevents new creditors from accessing your credit file and prevents others from opening accounts in your name until you lift the freeze. Unlike fraud alerts, placing a security freeze with one reporting company does not mean they will notify the other two agencies. You must contact each credit reporting agency individually to place freezes. Because most businesses will not open credit without a credit check, a freeze can stop thieves from opening credit in your name.
How else can I protect myself and my family?
If you choose not to freeze your credit report with all three bureaus, it can be a good idea to place a free fraud alert with one of the bureaus if you choose only to freeze your Equifax report at no charge. Placing a fraud report with a bureau triggers fraud alerts for your report at all three bureaus.
FTC link to placing fraud alerts: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0275-place-fraud-alert
More information from CFBP can be found here: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/top-10-ways-protect-yourself-wake-equifax-data-breach/