When news broke that the credit-reporting company Equifax had a major data breach, people across the country wanted to know what to do next.
The exposed data impacted 143 million Americans and put them at risk for identity theft. It could include personal information like Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, birthdays, addresses and more.
It’s no surprise that Americans are frustrated and frightened by this breach. That’s why we want to offer proactive steps you can take to secure your data.
Find Out If You Were Affected
A smart first step is to see if you were one of the millions of people who were potentially impacted. Here’s how:
- Go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to find out if you potentially affected by the breach or call 866.447.7559 for more information
- Click on the “Potential Impact” link in the top navigation
- Click on the “Check Potential Impact” button, and follow the prompts
Please note, you will need to enter the last 6 digits of your Social Security number and last name to use this tool.
Monitor Your Credit
Whether or not the data breach impacted you, it is always a smart idea to keep a close eye on your credit. Check your free credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com.
You can also set alerts with each credit bureau to receive fraud notifications.
Be attentive in reviewing your account statements, credit card activity and other financial data from all of your financial institutions. Check for any changes in personal information and report any unusual activity.
Consider Placing a Freeze on Your Credit
A freeze can be placed on your files with each of the three credit agencies for added protection. This blocks anyone from pulling your credit information unless you unfreeze your account with a PIN.
Please keep in mind:
- You have to put a freeze on each major credit bureau: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion
- There may be fees associated with each credit freeze and possibly fees to unfreeze your credit as well
- If you plan on taking out a loan, applying for a new apartment, applying for a mortgage or any other activity that pulls your credit, you will need to unfreeze your information before you apply
- There may be a waiting period to unfreeze credit information
- A credit freeze can block people from opening new accounts, but does not stop them from charging your existing accounts
For more information, go to the FTC’s Credit Freeze FAQs.
Keep up with How Equifax is Handling the Breach
Equifax is still in the process of answering the many questions and concerns that people have after the breach. New information is coming out every day, so keep an eye on the news to get the latest information.
For now, Equifax is waiving the fee for anyone who wants to put a credit freeze on their Equifax account.
They are also offering a free year of TrustedID Premier, an identity theft protection and credit monitoring service provided by Equifax.
- Equifax credit report
- 3 bureau credit file monitoring
- Equifax credit report lock
- Social Security number monitoring
- Up to $1M identity theft insurance
Remember that this service is only free for one year, but fraudsters can have access to any compromised data for much longer. It’s important to have a long-term plan to protect yourself.
Additional Resources for Suncoast Members
At Suncoast Credit Union, the privacy and security of your accounts and personal data will always be a top priority. We promise to always do our part to keep your information safe and secure, especially against fraud.
Since this breach was from an outside organization, it is important that you pay attention to your personal data and protect yourself.
Suncoast members can get additional assistance with data breach concerns through our Member Security Center. We offer identity protection services that you can enroll in at www.membersecuritycenter.com.
As you monitor your accounts, you can always reach out to us if you see something suspicious. If you see anything concerning in your Suncoast accounts and believe you may have been a victim of identity theft, please call our Member Care Center at 800.999.5887.
For more information about Suncoast’s fraud prevention services, please go to our Fraud Prevention FAQs.
Stay Vigilant Over Time
If there is one takeaway to keep in mind after this data breach, it is that it’s crucial to remain vigilant about monitoring your accounts and your credit. Even when it seems that the immediate threat has passed, any compromised information could still be in the wrong hands.
For example, if you signed up for a free year of identity protection, a fraudster can still have your personal data after the year is up. Make a long-term plan to ensure the safety of your personal information.
And remember, we’re here for you.