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The credit reporting agency, Equifax, recently disclosed that the confidential information on more than 145 million Americans has been compromised. This includes Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, and other private information.
Equifax has a website that will determine if you may be affected. https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/am-i-impacted/. Even if you are not considered impacted, you may enroll in Equifax’s TrustedID Premier service for free for one year. This service includes: 3-bureau credit file monitoring, Equifax credit report, Equifax credit report lock, Social Security number monitoring, and $1 million in identity theft coverage.
The reality is that whether you were impacted by this specific event or not, your information is readily available to any number of entities that may experience a similar situation. This includes banks, credit card companies, and even utility companies. It’s better to be proactive in protecting your credit than dealing with the hassle of correcting identity theft when it inevitably occurs.
Freezing your credit file is way to protect yourself from potential identity theft from this event or future events. I have had mine frozen for a couple of years after the pain of having to deal with this myself. You need to contact all three credit bureaus to properly freeze your file: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
There is some time and a small cost involved in setting up your account with each bureau. Equifax is providing a freeze for free through January. Having my credit file frozen has not been an inconvenience to me beyond this initial requirement. You are able to unfreeze your file as needed. I have found it better to do a one-time specific authorization instead of unfreeze the file when needed for a credit inquiry.
Freezing your credit file is a great proactive method to protect against your financial information being used to open new forms of credit. It does not, however, protect established accounts. Consequently, monitoring your account activity is also crucial to avoid fraudulent activity from identify theft.