The Social Security numbers, names, birthdays, credit card numbers and addresses of approximately 143 million people have been stolen from the credit-reporting company Equifax.
On Thursday, September 7, Equifax announced that the security breach had taken place between mid-May and July 2017. Apparently, they did not discover the issue until July 29, but they did not release the information to the public until this week.
Because of that, your personal data may have been compromised for months.
To find out if you were possibly involved in the breach, Equifax set up a website to let you know if your information was possibly compromised but there has been some backlash regarding the accuracy and safety of the site. You have to enter your last name and last 6 digits of your social security number to check. In an article from BusinessInsider.com, they point out that this requirement alone is an issue. In addition, the site was not working for many and then you have to waive your rights to a class-action lawsuit if you decide to use the site to monitor your credit. You can opt out of the arbitration clause, but you have to do it by mail.
For those who many be affected by this breach, there are options to protect your identity. In an article from AP Business Writer, Ken Sweet, it indicates that the best way to protect your information is to put a freeze on your credit with the major credit bureaus, including Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
You also want to check your credit report quarterly from the free site Annualcreditreport.com.
If you don't want to go as far as setting up a freeze on your credit, you can create a fraud alert where you have to be contacted by phone to set up new accounts.
For more information, head to the emergency Equifax website at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com or call 866-447-7559. If your information was stolen, Equifax is supposed to send you a notice via mail.