There’s bad news about the Equifax security breach, and then there’s more bad news, particularly for those looking at pursuing financing loans in the near future.
The bad news is the most obvious: As a result of a security breach at Equifax, one of the big three credit bureaus, personal information of 143 million Americans – including Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses – was compromised.
Follow this link to find out if your information was part of the breach. https://trustedidpremier.com/eligibility/eligibility.html.
The news was first publicly reported by Equifax earlier in September, but reports are surfacing that the company knew of the cyberattack months earlier.
Most financial experts advise consumers to place on their accounts credit freezes with all the major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This will block any potential creditors from being able to view or pull these credit file, and therefore stymie any attempts to apply for new credit.
And that’s where the other bad news comes in for some victims. If you are not planning to apply for credit or financing for a while, a freeze will protect you from having an identity thief take out loans in your name until you are ready to unfreeze or “thaw” your credit.
However, if you are in the midst of applying for financing or know you will need to in the near future, it can be more difficult.
When applying to freeze your credit, consumers are issued a PIN, which is the only number that can be used to unfreeze the credit. It is imperative that this number be kept safe so you can find it when you need it.
That said, all the information needed to freeze one’s credit – name, address, date of birth and Social Security number – were all compromised in the Equifax breach. Theoretically, with the information that was stolen, someone could easily thaw your credit freeze.
Furthermore, because of the high volume of credit freezes, some are reporting difficulty and delays in getting their credit unfrozen.
So what is the answer?
There is no perfect solution. The best advice from financial experts is to, No. 1, freeze your credit if you think you are the victim of the identity theft. Again: Keep track of your PIN number.
If you are in the process of applying for credit, contact your lender and find out which credit bureau it typically uses and you can temporarily lift your credit freeze with that bureau.
Finally, keep track of your credit score and activity on all your accounts. Diligence is the best defense.
Please contact us if you have any questions.