Friday, October 13, 2017

The Equifax Data Breach: How to Protect Yourself

From May to July of 2017, Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies in America, suffered a data breach that exposed the personal and financial information of over 143 million Americans. This sensitive information included Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, driver’s license numbers, and even credit card numbers.

The Bad News 
So what now? The bad news is, if you’ve ever used a credit card, applied for a loan, or basically done anything within the financing realm, there’s a chance you’re at risk of your information being exposed, and worse, used for unlawful purposes like identity theft. 

The Good News 
There are measures you can take to prevent your information from being used against you and severely disrupting your life. 

In an attempt at damage control, Equifax is offering free credit monitoring to the everyone, not just those affected by the breach. Free is free, and if it provides even the slightest chance of protecting yourself, you should seriously consider it. Visit to utilize this service.

What else can be done? According to The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPT), there are quite a few ways you can you protect yourself from the Equifax Breach. 

1. Review Your Credit Report: Everyone gets one free credit report per year from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
2. Security Freeze: According to CFPT, “A security freeze or credit freeze on your credit report restricts access to your credit file. Creditors typically won’t offer you credit if they can’t access your credit reporting file, so a freeze prevents you and others from opening new accounts in your name.” 
3. Set up Fraud Alert: This protects you by requiring any financial institution to verify your identity before creating changes on your account. This means no one can open a new account without your knowledge through extra identification steps taken by the institution.
5. Pay Attention to Your Bills: Random bill show up in your mail not addressed to you? It could mean someone is using your identity. Contact the institution immediately.  
7. Throw Away the Key and Change Your Passwords: This is easy and it’s effective. Make sure you change the passwords to all of your accounts and ensure they are strong.
Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® is a non-profit organization that services more than 1,000 REALTOR® and Affiliate members. Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® is affiliated with the Illinois REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS®, and works to provide our members with the tools and information they need to remain successful.  We strive to keep our membership informed as to the latest developments that affect housing and the real estate industry in general. The Multiple Listing Service, education programs and an extensive political action program are just a few of the services that Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® provides for its members.

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