58%. That is Brains Report’s calculation of what percentage of adults in the United States were affected by the Equifax data breach. You should assume you were impacted. This means that ne’er-do-wells are likely out there somewhere having their way with your home address, name, credit card numbers, driver’s license info, birth date, and *gulp* your social security number. Below, we will look at the most up-to-the-second information and what you can do.
How It All Went Down
Equifax reported that the hack happened somewhere in the ballpark of mid-May to late July. Yet, they didn’t tell the public about it until September 7th. Scofflaws gained access to all of the personal information mentioned above. This is a big deal.
In the wake of the breach, Equifax set up a really spammy-sounding site called equifaxsecurity2017.com. For some reason, they didn’t want to use their main domain, and they didn’t want you to feel too comfortable using the site. At least it’s a .com! Anyway, you can follow the “Enroll” link in the top menu to see if your information was impacted. BUT, it may not be accurate. I got this message:
And, I’m going to err on the side of caution, but there have been several reports that the hack checker either didn’t working or provided unreliable results. Equifax claimed in a notice to consumers on September 8th (see image below) that they have fixed the problem, but if I’ve learned one thing from this incident it’s DON’T TRUST EQUIFAX.
DON’T TRUST EQUIFAX
Whether or not you were impacted, you can enroll in TrustedID Premier for free for one year. This is a credit file monitoring and identity theft protection product that is owned by Equifax. Many reputable news outlets, including The New York Times, are warning against using TrustedID because you may have to waive your right to join a class action lawsuit. And, there will be a class action lawsuit.
What Other Steps Should You Take?
First of all, get your free annual credit report from all three of the major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – and check it for any untoward activity. Secondly, freeze your credit by calling Experian at 1-888-397-3742, TransUnion at 1-888-909-8872, and Equifax at 1-800-349-9960. This will cost you anywhere from $3 to $10 for each bureau, but it will keep hooligans from accessing credit in your name. Next, set a fraud alert up for free.
In the meantime, keep close tabs on your credit card and bank accounts. I check my credit union accounts every Friday morning. It’s a fun habit to get into, like picking your scabs.
Document with receipts and other evidence every penny that Equifax’s screw-up costs you because you should be able to get it back whether it’s through a class action lawsuit or other means. You should not have to pay for their mistake.
This Is Where James Goes Off the Rails
Equifax is no stranger to class action lawsuits. Their crappy credit reporting has ruined countless lives. Isn’t that work that should be left to the government? Along with Experian and TransUnion, Equifax holds an incredible amount of power. They can determine whether we get jobs, own a home, qualify for loans, and so on.
Fortunately, there are members of the House Committee on Financial Services who are ready to overhaul how credit reporting works in the United States. Of course, this could just be posturing to gain political points in the wake of a disaster. But, if we hold our representatives accountable, then we can create change. So, if you are as pissed off as I am about this Equifax mess, please take 30 seconds to call your representative and senators to let them know that you would like to see an overhaul of the credit reporting system.
What are your thoughts? Should I be nicer to Equifax? Please comment below.