6 steps you should take after the Equifax security breach

Equifax Inc.

The Equifax security breach may have affected 143 million people, but many of those impacted still have no idea because they haven’t taken steps to find out.

“First of all, I didn’t even think to check. I just thought, it won’t be me.” said Sharon Steinmann in Greenville, who looked today and, to her surprise, she is impacted.

So are 2.3 million people in SC.

STEP 1
The first step is to head to this site: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

You’ll need to click on “potential impact” in the bar, which will take you here.

Enter your last name and last 6 of your social security number, and you’ll get a message that either says you “may be impacted” or are not likely impacted.

Watch out, though. Equifax sent out a recent tweet sending people to a bogus site, built to show how easily people could be scammed.

STEP 2
Sign up for free credit monitoring. Whether you are affected, Equifax is offering the free monitoring for one year through TrustedID Premier.

But some consumer advocates say, the hackers will have your information (like social security number, birth date, address, and even possibly your driver’s license number and credit card info) long after that year has passed. So it’s better to seek out the free credit monitoring from a company that will offer it for years. CreditKarma.com is one that does that, but be aware, you may be subject to marketing (which is how they make their money).

STEP 3
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs is recommending people impacted freeze their credit. You’ll need to contact all three credit reporting agencies to do that. See below.

In South Carolina, it’s free to place a freeze and also lift it (so don’t let anyone try to charge you).

“A security freeze basically puts your credit report on lockdown. So it’s going to prevent new accounts from being opened up using your information,” said Juliana Harris with the SC Dept. Of Consumer Affairs.

If you do need to use your credit to open a card or buy a car, you can do a temporary lift. The process only takes 15 minutes, as long as you keep your personal identification number handy.

STEP 4
Put a fraud alert on your accounts. You can do this with the credit reporting agencies, as well as any other accounts you have like your credit card.

STEP 5
Be vigilant, and expect to be the target of lots of scams.

“Consumers need to be extra vigilant when they get cold-called or receive emails pertaining to being related to this Equifax security breach. If someone is asking for your personal information, do not give it,” said Carrie Grube-Lybarker with the SC Dept. Of Consumer Affairs.

STEP 6
Get your free credit reports with all three agencies so you can have a record of where your credit stands now.

How to contact the credit reporting agencies to freeze your credit:

TransUnion
By phone: 1-888-909-8872
By mail: Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
Use the following address:
TransUnion LLC
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016

Equifax
(Important note: With such high traffic to the website, if you can’t get your request processed, just wait about a week and try again.)
By phone: 1-800-685-1111 (NY residents please call 1-800-349-9960)
By mail: Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
Use the following address:
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348

Experian
By phone: 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742). When calling, press 2 and then follow prompts for security freeze.
By mail: Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
Use the following address:
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013