FREMONT – Millions of credit reports were accessed over the spring and early summer by hackers who undoubtedly mean to sell the information contained within those reports to strike it rich. Unfortunately for the145 million average consumers who were exposed to this risk, there’s no way to be totally positive that your information is safe.
So what’s the average Joe to do? First thing’s first, see if Equifax thinks you’re effected by going to https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/am-i-impacted/ and answering two very simple questions. The reporting agency will then tell you whether or not you’re believed to be included in the hack.
Not everyone in a household will be effected equally – it’s important to perform this check for every member of your household.
Secondly, whether your information was exposed to this hack or not, experts are recommending that everyone place a freeze on their credit report. When you freeze your credit, it makes your report inaccessible to lenders and credit companies – meaning hackers cannot open new accounts in your name. To place a freeze on your credit report, you’ll need to visit the three main bureaus’ freeze websites and request the lock.
Freeze site: https://www.freeze.equifax.com
Make sure you print and securely save the PIN you’ll be given so that you can remove the freeze the next time YOU need to access your credit report to apply for new credit.
Freeze site: https://www.experian.com/freeze
Cost: For users in Nebraska, there is a $3.00 per person fee. Fees vary by state.
It’s highly recommended that you do not choose your own PIN. Instead, allow the system to automatically generate a random PIN for you. Print and save this for future removal of your freeze.
Lock site: https://www.trueidentity.com
Unlike the other two main bureaus, TU has developed an entire website dedicated to locking and unlocking your credit report access. Sign up for an account, then when presented with the home page, make sure to click on LOCK to lock your credit report.
Save your PINs and logins in a secure place, and be prepared to access and reverse these locks the next time you’re ready to apply for credit.
Freezing your credit report prevents new accounts from being opened, but it does not safeguard your currently open accounts. You should still monitor your credit, using a website or app like www.creditkarma.com, and review your bank statements and credit card statements carefully on a regular basis.