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Posted: September 09, 2017

Equifax cyberattack: How to get a free credit report, protect your identity


By Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Credit reporting juggernaut Equifax announced Thursday that its information was compromised in a major cyberattack affecting 143 million Americans – or two-thirds of people with credit reports.

>> Read more trending news

Hackers were able to get birth dates, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and addresses, according to Equifax, leaving some to wonder how they can protect themselves.

Here are some tips for ensuring your information is secure:

Find out whether you were affected by the hack through Equifax’s website. The site asks for a person’s last name and the last six digits of their Social Security number in order to determine whether the person was caught in the breach.

Don’t bother with Equifax’s monitoring serviceClark.com reported, noting that the company offering the service is the same one that was hacked.

“The only way to truly protect yourself is with a credit freeze,” Clark.com reported, recommending that people freeze their credit files with all three of America’s major credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Doing so does not affect whether or not a person can use already existing lines of credit.

>> Read more information on freezing your credit on Clark.com

Review your credit report and put a fraud alert on it if you are affected, Popular Mechanics suggested. A fraud alert will make it necessary for banks and credit companies to jump through extra hoops to confirm your identity. The magazine noted that a fraud alert filed with any one of America’s three credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and Transunion -- will be shared between the three.

>> Read more information on fraud alerts from the Federal Trade Commission

Whether or not you decide to put a fraud alert on your credit file, you can still obtain a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the credit bureaus. The reports can be obtained through annualcreditreport.com or by completing and mailing an annual credit report request form, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

>> Read more information on obtaining free credit reports from the Federal Trade Commission 

You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can order your report from each of the companies one at a time. The law allows you to order one free copy of your report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies every 12 months.


Related

Mike Stewart/AP

Equifax reports massive data breach that could affect 143 million in U.S.

Mike Stewart/AP

Equifax reports massive data breach that could affect 143 million in U.S.

This July 21, 2012, photo shows Equifax Inc., offices in Atlanta. Credit monitoring company Equifax says a breach exposed social security numbers and other data from about 143 million Americans. The Atlanta-based company said Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, that "criminals" exploited a U.S. website application to access files between mid-May and July of this year. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Equifax data breach: What to know

Credit reporting and technology company Equifax had data compromised in what it said was a cybersecurity incident that affected 143 million customers in the U.S.

>> Read more trending news

Here is what you need to know about the incident:

Equifax learned of the incident in July 2017. The breach occurred from mid-May through July 2017.

According to the FAQ on a website the company created to provide customers with information on the hack, Equifax found out about the breach July 29. The company said it “acted immediately to stop the intrusion and conduct a forensic review.” The company says the situation has been contained.

Birth dates, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and addresses are among the information accessed.

Equifax said that in some instances, driver’s license numbers were also accessed by hackers. Some personal information from UK and Canadian residents was also accessed.

Consumers can enroll in free identity theft protection and credit monitoring.

Equifax has offered free credit monitoring for a year through its subsidiary TrustedID Premier. According Equifax, the credit monitoring service also provides Social Security monitoring, a credit report lock, credit report and identity theft insurance.

Consumers can go to EquifaxSecurity2017.com to find out if their information was impacted by the breach.At the website, consumers can click the “check potential impact link and enter their last name and the last six digits of their social security number. The consumer will get a message alerting them whether or not their data was compromised.

Equifax reports massive data breach that could affect 143 million in U.S.

Mike Stewart/AP

Equifax reports massive data breach that could affect 143 million in U.S.

Credit reporting and technology company Equifax said Thursday a “cyber security incident” may have exposed the personal information of 143 million U.S. consumers.

The data that might have been accessed includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses. The company also said driver’s license numbers might also have been exposed. The unauthorized access also compromised some personal information for an undisclosed number of residents of the United Kingdom and Canada, Equifax said.

>> Read more trending news

Unauthorized access to the information occurred from mid-May to July, the company said, and was discovered by the company on July 29. Equifax, which is based in Atlanta, engaged a outside cybersecurity firm to investigate, the company said.

“This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes,” Equifax Chairman and CEO Richard F. Smith said in a  Thursday news release. “We pride ourselves on being a leader in managing and protecting data, and we are conducting a thorough review of our overall security operations. We also are focused on consumer protection and have developed a comprehensive portfolio of services to support all U.S. consumers, regardless of whether they were impacted by this incident.”

The company has set up a website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, for additional information and to access credit monitoring and identity theft protection services.

Equifax said it would provide a free package of credit monitoring and ID protection services at no cost, which Smith called an unprecedented step

A video statement from Smith was uploaded to Equifax’s YouTube page and is below:

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