How to Protect Your Identity After the Equifax Breach
The Equifax breach is perhaps the biggest exposure of personal data to occur in the digital era. While other breaches have affected a larger number of people, the sheer value and volume of data stolen in the Equifax breaches greatly exceeds anything gleaned from larger breaches.
Equifax is one of the three companies that other financial institutions depend on the understand who you are, what debts you hold, what your credit score is. That means anyone exposed in this breach is completely compromised. But you don’t have to give up hope completely—you can take steps to minimize your exposure and control any problems which do arise.
Figure Out If You’re Exposed
This one can be tricky, as news coverage of the Equifax tool for determining exposure has revealed a disturbing degree of inaccuracy. For this reason, we don’t recommend using the Equifax site as confirmation of whether you are exposed or not.
The Equifax data breach impacts an estimated 143 million Americans. That’s out of a total population of 323 million—a number which includes minors and others with no credit to worry about. In other words, if you’re worried about your identity being stolen due to the Equifax breach, you should be!
Securing What You Can
Your first step should be to enact best security practices everywhere you can. That means no more PINs derived from birthdates or other personal information, no more reused passwords across your different financial sites and personal sites, etc. Assume that anyone who wants to steal your identity can find out all the basic information of your life. From there, you can start taking steps to make it difficult for someone sitting on your stolen data to cut through your life unimpeded.
You may also consider a credit freeze through Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. This makes it more difficult to open new credit accounts in your name, but it isn’t a perfect solution. The exposed data out there may equip savvy identity thieves to get through your credit freeze. Still, it’s better than nothing.
Monitoring Your Credit
Your best response to the Equifax breach isn’t securing, due to the scope of the exposure, but rather careful monitoring. Signing up for a site like CreditKarma so you can observe your credit closely will allow you to spot fraudulent accounts and take action against them immediately.
If you don’t feel like handling this on your own, there are various credit security firms out there which will monitor your credit as a paid service. This costs more than monitoring on your own, of course, but may offer an additional level of security—and save you time.
Finally, make sure that if something looks wrong you act immediately. Identity theft only gets worse the longer it’s left unchallenged. If you take down every attempt at the earliest stages, they won’t be able to grow into significant problems with disastrous result for your credit.
Keeping Secure with Shredding in Maryland & Virginia
Because of the data out there in the wild, it’s more important than ever that you control the data closest to you. Shredding receipts and other paper documents with identifying information won’t get your data off the internet, but it will prevent opportunists from spotting you as a valuable target then hunting down additional data online.
Need help keeping your assets secure, or looking for ways to find secure document and media shredding in Maryland? Contact the experts at TrueShred!
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