There are a number of steps you can take to determine if you are affected. They include:
- Visiting the Equifax website www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.
- Visiting the website of credit report companies including Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. One site you can access for all credit reports is annualcreditreport.com. Check for any account activity that could be associated with an identity theft.
- Visiting IdentityTheft.gov to learn what to do.
- Freezing your credit accounts. This will make it more difficult for someone to open up an account in your name.
- Checking your existing credit and bank accounts frequently for changes you don’t recognize.
- Placing a fraud alert on your credit accounts. This would warn creditors that your identity has been stolen and obligate them to find out that the person seeking credit under your name is truly you.
- Filing your taxes early before someone who has stolen your identity does. This could prevent someone who has your social security number from getting your tax refund.
Retirees Should Take Some Extra Precautions
People who have retired should have additional concerns. For example, financial advisors suggest that freezing their accounts makes sense for retirees. However, they counsel that fraud alerts are worthless. They argue that too much time has past since the breach giving a thief enough of an opportunity to empty a bank account or influence a person’s credit account. So, a fraud alert would be too late.
These advisors note that if a retiree had relied on a comprehensive fraud and identity theft monitoring service like LifeLock, then he or she would have been notified of the breach and the service would take steps to protect his or her identity.
Identity theft monitoring companies offer a daily analysis of all of a retiree’s accounts including bogus credit reports concerning fraudulent transactions from opening new, unauthorized accounts to evidence of identity theft on the dark web. The dark web is a network of Internet sites that require special software, configuration or authorization to gain access. It is often used by people with nefarious intent to sell and purchase personal information that can result in identity theft.
Those in the know concerning identity theft also encourage retirees who may have been victims in the Equifax breach to check and then closely monitor their social security account. Retirees should be aware that identity thieves could contact the Social Security Administration and change your account’s address so that benefits are sent to them.
You can read more about the timeline of recent cyber attacks made on Equifax, as well as the affects the breach may have on you and your personal information. If you’d like to speak with a lawyer about the data breach and what you can do beyond the steps outlined above, the Eichholz Law Firm can help. Please contact our offices in Savannah, Atlanta, and Madison for more information.