As we’ve been out in the field delivering classes and working with people, we recognized that, while many people have heard of the Equifax data breach, few have really looked into the issue or done anything about it. Additionally, we have heard that many case managers have not been providing information to their clients about the severity of this situation and the potential negative impact it could have on their financial and economic lives. As we all know, credit is an important part of a person’s “access” and it is a part of our economic lives that we really should have a handle on, especially when it comes to data breaches, credit fraud, and identity theft.
Equifax is one of the three major credit reporting agencies. Earlier this summer, 145.5 million Americans had their sensitive personal data exposed to a data breach at Equifax, so if you have a credit report, there’s a good chance your personal data (social security and driver’s license number) is included in this breach. Bottom line: if your personal information has been accessed through this data breach then it could have a negative impact on your personal credit report and impact your financial life. That’s why it is critical that you and your clients check to see if your credit has been compromised by this data breach.
How do I check to see if my credit and/or a client’s credit is breached?
- If you visit equifaxsecurity2017.com you (and your clients) can check to see if you were impacted by the data breach. Read, scroll, and click on “Am I Impacted?”
- Additionally, this report from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) talks about what happened and what you can do to protect yourself: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-data-breach-what-do
What do I do if my credit or a client’s credit was breached?
You may freeze your credit report and clients may decide to freeze their credit reports. Please visit Federal Trade Commission for more information about freezing your credit and how to do it. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs
- According to FTC, Equifax is waiving their freeze fee until January 31, 2018. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/free-credit-freezes-equifax
- If you and/or your clients are interested in learning more about credit reports, credit scores, and what to do about them please visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/consumer-tools/credit-reports-and-scores/
Who are the credit bureaus?
There are three major credit bureaus that monitor your credit activity: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.
- Once per year you can receive a free credit report from each credit bureau at annualcreditreport.com this will allow you to:
- Use your credit report to look for fraudulent or incorrect information that could hurt your credit, and to decide what you want to do about any debt or unpaid bills you may have.
- You can learn a lot about credit reports, credit scores and what to do about them at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/consumer-tools/credit-reports-and-scores/