Since the Equifax data breach, there has been lots of great advice from experts on how important a credit freeze is to protect yourself and your identity. Although most of the advice is great, I think there’s a critical point missing. First of all, rather than spending time trying to find out if your personal data was compromised or not in the Equifax breach, just assume that it was. Next, I hear lots of experts advised that a credit freeze is a wise idea. Just because you have a credit freeze does not mean you are totally protected. Remember, from what we know of the Equifax hack, there was driver’s license data, name, address, and birthdate data taken as well. None of these items of information will be protected using a credit freeze. These are all pieces of information that could be used to create fake identity documents, like driver’s licenses or passports. With fake documentation, a criminal could cash checks using your identity or present it to a hospital for billing after receiving medical care. And in the worst-case scenario, a criminal could be carrying your identification during the commission of a crime. I don’t mean to alarm or frighten you, but when it comes to your credit and your identity, let’s prepare for the worst and hope for the best. So, what are the steps you need to take?
- Check your credit immediately – As we know, the hack of Equifax data happened May to July, so it’s possible that fraud has already begun to happen. So, to be safe, check your credit reports from either Experian or Trans Union and review them.
- Sign up for Identity Protection – Credit monitoring is not enough to protect your identity. I recommend signing up for a full identity protection service.
- Review all your statements – I know this takes time, but I am sure you work hard for your money so do not let any of it be ignored. If you take out a highlighter and highlight any charges that you are unaware of. Then call the bank or credit card company to see if they can give you more information about the charge and if it is not yours dispute it. You want to be making sure even a $1.00 small charge is reviewed.
Yes, the Equifax breach was awful but let’s be honest, it’s not the first data breach and it, unfortunately, will not be the last. So, at the very least, this Equifax breach is a glaring reminder that we all need to protect our identity and credit by creating good habits, like the three I mentioned above. Be the CEO of your Identity. If you have any questions about any of these tips, please let me know, I’m here to help!