It has been almost one year since the 2017 Equifax data breach, but it is still impacting millions of Americans.
With such a massive amount of people facing compromised personal data, it’s important to learn the latest information and the steps needed to protect yourself.
The Breach Was Larger Than Originally Reported
The total number of consumers impacted by the Equifax breach is 147.9 million. This number is higher than originally reported because Equifax has since found that millions of additional people were affected by the breach. About half of the American population potentially had their personal information compromised.
The Equifax breach is one of the largest data breaches that has ever occurred. Not only has it impacted so many people, but the amount data that was released surpassed a lot of previous data breaches.
Be Aware of Expiration Dates for Free Credit Monitoring
After the breach, Equifax offered a free year of TrustedID Premier, their identity protection and credit monitoring service. If you signed up for this free service at the time, make sure you know when the free subscription is over.
Whether you elect to keep TrustedID Premier after your free subscription ends or not, it’s important to have a long-term plan to protect yourself. Once your data is compromised, the fraudsters can keep your information long after the breach ends.
Take Action to Protect Yourself
Even if you’re not sure whether or not you were impacted by this particular data breach, the scope of this incident should show that anyone’s personal information can be vulnerable.
Here are some ways that you can protect yourself:
- Enroll in an identity protection program
- Log in to your online banking regularly to monitor activity across all of your accounts
- Set up alerts for your bank accounts with your financial institution
- Set up alerts for new credit activity with a credit monitoring service
- Check your credit reports (you get one free copy from each of the three bureaus per year)
- File taxes early to help prevent tax fraud after a breach
- Create different, secure passwords for each account and use best practices for security
- Use two-step authentication when possible
You may also want to consider placing a fraud alert, credit freeze or credit lock. The FTC has FAQs to help you determine if one of these options may be right for you.
Biggest Takeaway: Stay Alert
If there is one thing to remember, it’s this: you should always remain attentive when it comes to your personal data. Long after a data breach stops showing up in the headlines of breaking news, its impact can still wreak havoc on your finances.
Stay alert and proactive about protecting your personal information.