What should you do right now about the Equifax data breach?
You know over 140 million Americans had their private information stolen from Equifax. It is horrible that Equifax allowed this to occur. You have no choice but for Equifax to have your private information. And they did a lousy job of protecting it and then held that critical information from you for at least 6 weeks.
(If you want to know more about this data breach, you can read our Frequently Asked Questions here).
But what do you do now?
Here are the steps we suggest:
- Find out if you may have been victimized by the recklessness of Equifax
- Pull your credit reports right now
- Dispute any false information by certified mail
- Consider credit monitoring for protection now
- Look at a credit freeze for more protection now
- If this has caused you to be upset or worried, then consider suing Equifax
Find out if you may have been victimized by the recklessness of Equifax
This is the first step.
While Equifax has never been trustworthy, we do need to start here to see if Equifax says our data has been, or may have been, stolen.
If you click here, it will take you to “Trusted ID Premier”. This is the website to find out if you have been hacked.
(To verify, this is the URL you should see — https://trustedidpremier.com/eligibility/eligibility.html)
Of course, you have to make the decision on whether to enter your data but we are advising our clients to do so and I have personally entered my data.
Right now you are just trying to figure out if it looks like you were affected or not affected.
You will get one of several responses:
- Based on the information provided, we believe that your personal information may have been impacted by this incident.
- Based on the information provided, we believe that your personal information was not impacted by this incident.
(Do I need to do anything if Equifax says my personal information was not impacted?)
Yes. You still need to pull your credit reports (discussed next). And keep in mind that Equifax has never been reliable but certainly not now. So this information could change.
Keep reading to find out the next steps….
Pull and study your credit reports right now
The place we have said to go for many years is www.AnnualCreditReport.com. This is the legitimate, free place to pull your actual credit reports. We continue to recommend this site.
Save your credit reports as PDFs and print them out physically.
Then go through them one at a time.
Line by line.
Make a list of all incorrect information, even if it seems minor.
There are no minor errors — any error can be harmful and a sign of identity theft.
Dispute any false information by certified mail
We discuss this in detail in other articles (for example, how to fix credit report errors) but here is the short version:
- Send this by mail, not online or by phone
- Send it certified mail
- Put in your letter enough information so Equifax can identify you (DOB, last 4 social, address)
- Make it clear what information you are disputing
- Tell whichever credit reporting agencies have the false information to fix it or delete it
- If another company has reported the information (such as a credit card, mortgage, etc) then copy them on the letter and tell them to fix it also
- If it appears to be ID theft, then include a police report that describes the false information
- In 30-45 days you should have some answers
Bottom line is the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) will fix the problems or you need to sue them under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Consider credit monitoring
Credit monitoring is where you can see what is happening with your credit. There are many options including Equifax which offers this to you free for a year.
This is where you have to make a choice.
Should you trust Equifax to do this correctly?
Many so “No” and I completely understand this.
Here’s why I think you should consider it.
Equifax has your information — you have no choice in the matter. If you use another monitoring service, it will also pull your Equifax data. So either way your data is out there in the hands of this incompetent company Equifax.
So you might as well use their monitoring service. They have removed (at least for now) the requirement that you do not sue them in a class action and that you arbitrate your claims.
But again it is your call whether to use monitoring and if so, which company.
For greater protection, you can get a credit freeze with Equifax and the other credit reporting agencies.
Look at a credit freeze for more protection now
A credit freeze is where no one can access your credit report. Imagine the door is shut. If you need to apply for credit, you have to “unfreeze” or “unlock” your account.
You can think of this as adding 5 different locks and alarms to your front door in your home.
It makes it safer but more difficult to get in. Even for you.
Here’s the way I would suggest thinking of this — if you want the most protection, do the credit freeze.
If you want a bit less protection, but more flexibility (maybe you are needing credit soon), then just go with the monitoring or pull your reports every few months.
To get a credit freeze, you go to each website of the credit bureaus and click on the link for a freeze. There normally can be a charge for this — Equifax says it is waiving the charge for the next several weeks.
Whether you do a credit freeze or not I suggest you look at suing Equifax for money damages.
If this has caused you to be upset or worried, then consider suing Equifax
There are many class action lawsuits filed — and we filed one of the first — but here’s the danger. Most class action lawyers are looking for a big payday (for themselves) and no benefit to the class members.
Here, they will say, “You get 3 years of monitoring and no money.”
That’s insane. No money? Seriously?
Does knowing that Equifax let your data be stolen — and then hid it from you for as long as they did — make you worried? Concerned? Have mental anguish?
I bet it does — for the rest of your life you are at risk. After all, your date of birth and social security number do not change.
This is a huge problem.
This is why you deserve compensation — money damages — if your information was hacked.
In our cases, we are not just looking for credit monitoring but also for money damages.
If you are interested in us helping you, click on the button below and we’ll send you more information. Just type in what you found out from Equifax — did they say your data may have been compromised? You can also add any additional information you would like us to know about.
(You can also call us at 205-879-2447 and ask for Randi or Carolyn).
While we do not normally accept clients from outside of Alabama, in this situation all of the federal cases will be put together in one court and as long as you are willing for us to file your case in Alabama to start off with, we can help you regardless of where you live.